"Perfumery may be an age-old art, but it's actual and alive in everyday life," says Paolo Vranjes. Perfume, he intones, tells a story, whether it is a floral scent that gives off a casual first impression or an oud aroma that represents an entire culture. And fragrances in our home are more important than we realise, because the atmosphere they evoke can influence our emotions, according to the nose and co-founder of luxury Italian home-fragrance brand Dr Vranjes Firenze.
Paolo and his “perfect life partner, best friend and ally,” his wife Anna Maria Vranjes, launched the brand in 1983, a decision spurred by their quest to create the finest fragrances that have the ability to stimulate sentiments and add warmth to homes.
“You have many advantages by using [scented home accessories]. The main ones are aromatherapy, which has a good influence on well-being, and making a house a home with pieces of exquisite art, handmade [in the Vranjes’s case] in Italy,” says Paolo.
The couple opened their first UAE boutique in The Dubai Mall in October, offering a selection of 40 artisan fragrances, plus reed diffusers, refills and room sprays.
The opening coincided with the global launch of Milano, Dr Vranjes’s latest home fragrance, which is a spicy, sophisticated fragrance, with patchouli, pepper and sandalwood, “to give energy to living spaces”.
The duo’s own story originates in Florence; it was where Paolo “moved for love”, and is the location in which their fragrances took shape. “We started by scenting our home with my perfumes – it was my favourite hobby. It stems from a love for beauty and the quest for perfection,” Paolo says.
His passion for scents started at a young age, when he watched his grandfather, a silk trader, bring perfumes home from the East. Paired with Anna Maria’s artistic vision, which is strongly rooted in Florence’s artisanal traditions, their brand came to life.
“Anna Maria has the ability of seeing the potential of unfinished objects,” says a visibly proud Paolo.
"She saw what was likely to be the base of a lamp being worked on by a master glassmaker, an expert in melting and moulding glass, and it reminded her of the octagonal base of the Florence's Duomo tambour." Accordingly, Dr Vranjes' products are bottled in decadent glass flacons, inspired by the architecture of its creators' home city.
As for the aromas, the couple's study of chemistry, pharmacy and cosmetology informs the scents on the store's shelves. An artisan perfumer, Paolo blends pure natural ingredients with essential oils for authenticity.
"As soon as the need to recreate a memory comes to mind, I start a long and fascinating journey by mixing 20 to 25 essential oils. Every time I combine the elements, I have to wait one month before having an idea of the final smell," he says. "Sometimes this journey can take two to three years, as it did for Rosso Nobile, the most appreciated of my creations globally."
This particular home fragrance is infused with the fruity floral scents of grapes, berries, violet and magnolia, and best enhances the ambience of bedrooms and living rooms. The fragrance is also a favourite in the collection available at the Dubai store, alongside Oud Nobile, which is a blend of oud resin, agarwood, incense and Mediterranean orange blossom.
Customers increasingly ask for personalised scents for their spaces, those that evoke a particular memory, say, or contain a note from the wearer's own perfume. Many are curious about the aromatherapy philosophy that lies at the core of the couple's vision, and seek home fragrances that are mood-lifters or can ease stress.
"To have the right effect from the home diffuser, you have to choose the right size and fragrance depending on the space you need to scent. For example, flowery notes are perfect for relaxing and sleeping areas, while spicy and woody ones are more indicated for daily spaces and help you to concentrate in working or studying areas," says Paolo. "Selecting a home fragrance is an exercise in self-reflection. The final goal is harmony."
The UAE store offers a number of scents that fall under the "east-meets-west" umbrella, and include musk, oud and light florals to accommodate regional preferences. These range from Dh90 for a 25ml spray to Dh4,900 for a 5,000ml diffuser. "The UAE is a passionate and enthusiastic market. People in the Gulf love to furnish and scent their homes, and always have," says Paolo, for whom opening a store in the Emirates' largest mall was thus a natural step.