Welcome to the enigmatic world of fragrance bottle design.
It's true that once you peel away the layers of mystery and artistry, perfume bottles serve a pretty basic function. Yes, they're lovely to behold — their crystal necks and flower-bulb stoppers like perfect glass gardens. But at the end of the day, they’re designed to hold and dispense liquid with the same efficiency as any humble household cleaner. No wonder most of us assume that the real stars of the fragrance universe are the precious ingredients inside the bottle — those powdery florals and heavy-lidded ouds that conjure memories and emotions and daydreams. But just like so many objects rendered in glass, perfume bottles offer us a slightly distorted — if not totally reverse — version of reality.
That's why the art of dropper bottle design has acquired new weight in an era where consumers often go online to experience fragrance instead of walking up to a store counter. Without the benefit of touch, human interaction, and the alchemy of scent on skin, people need something else to engage their senses and ignite their interest. And more often than not, the perfume bottle is what fills that virtual space. "It's the first form of communication and the first form of contact that people have with the scent," says De Baschmakoff. "So of course it has to resonate."
The trick is to design a bottle that resonates across the board — no small feat. A perfume can mean anything to anyone. Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps reminds me of my mother; it reminds my mother of balmy summer nights in Austria. But the bottle itself is a fixed quantity. It feels the same in our hands, it looks the same on our shelf, and it releases the same nimbus cloud of scent. It connects us.
The story behind a car perfume bottle is just as heady and complex as the fragrance inside. Below, we asked designers who have dreamed up some of our favorite bottles in recent years to distill their creative vision.
The perfume bottle especially plays a large role in crafting a brand image, but designing new bottles presents a special challenge for manufacturers. Glass is the material traditionally (and conventionally) used for diffuser bottle, as glass is transparent and preserves the properties of the fragrance stored inside. However, as perfumers prioritize form over function in order to offer the most creative aesthetic appeal, perfume bottles tend to have difficult shapes with complex glass thickness distributions and a low tolerance to container defects.
Fortunately, a recent article published in the International Journal of Applied Glass Science explains the development of a numerical model for manufacturing small glass bottles for perfume that can handle the mathematical complexity of B&B manufacturing. Though there is a lot of math, the researchers do an excellent job of relating the most important aspects of the equations and the model to the material properties and engineering parameters.