Luxembourg in Dubai 

Creating the Luxembourg pavilion’s signature scent

Cyrille Gerhardt of Smell Marketing, a niche fragrance distribution firm operating in Luxembourg since 2013 Mike Zenari/archives

Cyrille Gerhardt of Smell Marketing, a niche fragrance distribution firm operating in Luxembourg since 2013 Mike Zenari/archives

What did it take to recreate the scent of the Mullerthal woods for the Luxembourg pavilion in Dubai? Delano caught up with Cyrille Gerhardt, director of Smell Marketing, to find out.

Visitors to the Expo 2020 Dubai will be able to use all five senses--including scent--to take in the highlights of Luxembourg. Charged with creating the right scent to give visitors an impression of the Mullerthal woods, Gerhardt worked with a team of 12, collaborating with a laboratory in the south of France to get the notes just right.

“When you go into the Mullerthal woods, what’s most impregnating depends on the period,” Gerhardt says. “We were there in the beginning of summertime, when the scent is different and humidity takes over.” A fact which may also serve useful in Dubai, given that the average monthly temperatures there at the start of the expo are expected to be above 30° C.

The Mullerthal scent profile

Smell Marketing is used to working with clients to create signature scents for them based on their needs and based on the company’s own expertise, plus a healthy dose of common sense. “You cannot make a kebab shop smell like a five-star hotel,” Gerhardt says.

For the Luxembourg pavilion, the team took a palette of different scents ranging from floral, woodsy, other “green” scents, and worked through the process of elimination. The final profile includes the “fragile” top notes, which are “the more sophisticated florals, [which] last 5 to 20 seconds.”

The middle notes are mainly moss, while the base notes are more woodsy. “If you come into a place after a few hours, what lasts is the base note,” Gerhardt adds.

The team started creating the signature scent first with the base notes, then the middle and top notes. Tests were performed over months in order to be certain the scent remained stable, also with diffusion. The team narrowed it down to three options before a final scent was selected.

Scent souvenirs

Working together with the pavilion organisers, Gerhardt and his team also masterminded how the scent could be diffused on site.

“Diffusers are incorporated throughout the pavilion, [using] a precision timer and fan system,” Gerhardt explains, adding that visitors will experience the scent at the same time they see green visuals, because the two effects need to happen at the same time in order for the experience to work.

Following the tour, visitors to the pavilion can also pick up a sort of Luxembourg calling card, which will be perfumed as well. Such a scent and souvenir are game-changing, says Gerhardt. With scent also on this card, “it brings back to your deep memory the exhibition and the way you live the experience at the pavilion.” And, as far as he’s aware, Luxembourg will be the only participating country to have such a signature scent at its pavilion--and it remains to be seen whether the scent will later be available in the grand duchy.