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The smell of certain cologne, old books, or grandma’s cookies often makes us close our eyes for a few seconds and breathe deep, often opening a floodgate of memories. It is no wonder that fragrances are one of the key areas of focus for home furnishing companies, including IKEA. But creating scented candles is not about mixing a few drops of essential oil with wax. It’s a far more complex process involving intricate chemistry. We sat down with Chenyi Ke to know more.

A few years ago, Chenyi was on a trip to South Asia. She could not help but notice that wherever she went she could see people were hooked to their television sets. She shared her observation with a local colleague, who told Chenyi something she keeps close to her even today. The colleague explained that many of us cannot change our living circumstances, so the TV becomes an outlet or window to another world. It brings a break from the daily humdrum of a person’s life, transporting them to a place of their dreams – a seaside or the hills – or even the cocoon of loving, funny family, and friends.

Chenyi has the big mandate of creating fragrances at IKEA, and she profoundly follows the perspective that certain things can help us take a break from our daily routines.

The reason is – scents are a powerful way to create a feeling in any space.  Why is it that the smell of baking makes us think of the warmth of our home? That is probably why many people believe home is feeling more than a space.

Scents are the small ingredients of life at home that can turn four walls into an individual comfort zone and magically transform every space – every day and everywhere – no matter where in the world. And that’s why IKEA is focusing on the relationship between scents and the activities and needs of an individual’s life at home.

The scent we are developing brought that memory into my mind.

Scents all around

“It can also depend on the gap in the available scents collection that we have today. We have fruity, woody, and flowery fragrances. Is there something we are lacking? So, that’s the range-based thinking we have,” explained Chenyi.

Candle holders standing on a desk together with a fruit bowl.
The ADLAD scented candles.

When it comes to IKEA developing the scent with a fragrance house, it starts with sharing the brief, including what IKEA would ideally like to deliver to the customer. The fragrance house, on its part, can offer as many as two dozen options that Chenyi and her team evaluate to find the one closest to the brief. It is almost matchmaking, where the brief and scent must join the dots at some point. These samples often come in small glass containers, and one can light them up to gauge how they will feel in a room setting.

Glass bottles and glass containers filled with liquids and raw materials.
Samples used when developing scents.

Source: IKEA home fragrances it is all about memories and emotions