Muji’s new Aroma Bar brings Japanese aromatherapy to London


Japanese lifestyle brand Muji has revamped its retail space in Selfridges’ London flagship store – and it has introduced the brand’s highly sensory Aroma Bar concept to the UK at the same time.

The idea behind the Aroma Bar is simple: you can browse the scents of Muji’s range of essential oils – which can be used with aroma diffusers, oil burners or unglazed stones – and choose a combination of fragrances that appeal to you.

Photo by Andrew Meredith

There are aroma experts on hand at the bar to help out with this selection, and the brand has created handy pocket guides that provide guidance: for example, pointing out which Aroma Families blend well together and which specific scents pair perfectly.

Starting with a top note (in my case, the warm citrus of Blood Orange), shoppers can then select their middle note (for me, a floral Geranium) and finally base note (hi, earthy Patchouli). You can also be taught sniffing techniques – so that you’ll never again cluelessly jam the bottle under your nose. Instead, you’ll be expertly waving the aroma, and combining scents by fanning the paper notecards provided.

Photo by Andrew Meredith

Once you’ve gained an understanding of how to choose, mix and combine scent, the possibilities open up. You can craft essential oil stories to calm, energise or focus – and begin to understand and employ scent in the same sophisticated way that we use some of our other senses.

The Aroma Bar concept is an important step forward in teaching consumers about scent. As experience design becomes more multi-sensory – and as we become more aware of the mood-changing effects of colour and light on us – scent is the next frontier in developing a more sensorially intelligent design language.

As scent gains momentum across arts and culture – see Somerset House’s recent Perfume exhibition and the Tate’s 2015 Sensorium show – scent shopping is also set for an upgrade. And Muji is doing just that.


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