A woman and a man smelling bottles of fragrances.
Courtesy Aoiro

This Olfactory Design Studio in Berlin Makes Scents That Stimulate the Soul

Aoiro creates custom fragrances that are made to be felt, not smelled.
By Tiffany Lambert
May 15, 2021
2 minute read

For Shizuko Yoshikuni and Manuel Kuschnig, the Japanese-Austrian couple behind the Berlin-based olfactory design studio Aoiro, scent is essential to the success of any environment, adding an important experiential quality that goes beyond sight and sound. They make location-specific aromas for a wide range of clients—including Bang & Olufsen, Design Hotels, and Vitra, whose VitraHaus gallery in Germany reopened this week with a custom Aoiro scent diffused through the air of its entrance—with the aim of eliciting an emotion. Walk into any of their perfumed projects, and its savor is likely to be felt, not simply smelled.

Yoshikuni and Kuschnig—who have backgrounds in aromatherapy and philosophy, respectively—often describe the olfactory awareness they hope to achieve by referencing kōdō, the Japanese art of appreciating the subtle redolence of incense with one’s entire being. The pair’s knack for using smell as a vehicle for meditation is apparent in its own fragrance line, which include candles, air mists, oils, and a moon-inspired perfume that will be released later this year. Daily moments of calm can be created with Aoiro’s “olfactory ceremony set,” which features its signature scent, Hakudo Rain, a botanical essence that recalls the wet forest floor on Japan’s Awaji Island. Users are invited to place a drop of the elixir onto a cork diffuser in an act of reconnecting to, and recentering within, a given place. “Scent has always been a close companion to our inner journey,” Yoshikuni says. “Taking in a fragrance calms your mind, catalyzes quality breathing, and offers a space for silence. You can effortlessly incorporate this small act into your daily routine, generating a profound inner strength in return.”