The words “fragrant” and “railway station” don’t usually go hand in hand. (Odors, on the other hand, are a different story. And we’re not talking about the sweet smell of freshly baked croissants.) But a new installation at Gare Saint-Lazare, Europe’s second busiest station, is inviting passengers to pause, take a deep breath, and explore their olfactory sense.
To celebrate the launch of the Grand Musée du Parfum, Paris’s marvelous new perfume museum, the train station is staging a unique installation called “100% Illusion”—open through February 2, 2017. Imagined by Austrian designer Robert Stadler to resemble an “open-air laboratory,” the installation has five bell-shaped hoods which release different aromas. Visitors are invited to stand under them and smell four different essences—amyl vinyl carbinol, linalyl acetate, camphor and coumarin. The fifth and last hood combines those four essences to create the familiar smell of lavender. The installation therefore helps illustrate the complex molecular creation of a perfume, like the blending of a fine wine.
This is the first in a series of offsite, collaborative projects conceived by the Grand Musée du Parfum. It’s not the first time a Paris train station has served as a stage for art and cultural events. In recent years, Paris train stations have even become destinations for top French chefs; Eric Frechon and Thierry Marx have opened buzzing brasseries in Gare Saint-Lazare and Gare du Nord, respectively.