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A few drops of the scent of paper?

No-one’s in any doubt that paper can be a passion. Some live their professional lives side by side with paper and couldn’t imagine working with anything else. Others almost lose their heads when the shopping trip ends up in a paper shop and never want to leave. A passion for paper takes many forms. Now there’s even a perfume which smells like a freshly printed book – Paper Passion.

Paper Passion was produced by the renowned perfumer, or ‘nose’ as they say in the industry, Geza Schön together with the international magazine Wallpaper and the publisher/ printer Steidl. Wallpaper got the initial idea of creating a scent based on the smell of books from a short information film in which German publisher Gerhard Steidl says that his favourite scent is the smell of a freshly printed book.

A challenge for the nose

But capturing the scent and finding the right ingredients was harder than one might think.

“It was very difficult,” says master nose Schön in an interview, explaining:

“The smell of printed paper is dry and fatty; they are not notes you often work with.”

He did finally succeed and created the perfume with the help of only four or five ingredients. Usually a perfume contains between 20 and 100 ingredients, but from the very start Geza Schön had a vision of simplicity, and he stuck to it.

Design by Lagerfeld

The packaging was the job of Steidl’s friend and collaborator, designer Karl Lagerfeld, and the result was an elegant book, with pages and a hidden cut-out compartment for the perfume bottle in the centre.


At the start of the book there are also a number of short texts on the theme of paper, written by Karl Lagerfeld, Geza Schön, German author and artist Günter Grass and Wallpaper’s Editor-In-Chief Tony Chambers.

Lagerfeld himself writes: “Beautiful paper is for me the top of luxury. I am a paper freak. It’s a physical passion. I cannot live without paper. Touching perfect paper has something sensuous about it.”

So true.


Paper fans fall for Paper Passion

We invited in four people, all with a natural link to paper, and asked each of them to smell the perfume Paper Passion. After smelling the perfume for the first time, they were asked to answer the following questions:

1. What do you think of the scent?
2. Would you wear the perfume?
3. The packaging is a little unusual, what do you think of it?

What we can see, based on the opinions of the panel, is that the experience of a scent is extremely individual – and that Paper Passion, like most other perfumes, can smell very different on different people. One thing is certain, the whole concept, the scent of a freshly printed book and a packaging design with a difference, attracts attention and is a real talking point for most groups of people.


Bea Szenfeld, designer, mad about paper and perfume.

1. Now I’m a bit spoilt when it comes to perfume and I know exactly what I like. It isn’t bad, not bad at all, but I wish it smelled a bit more of ink.

2. I would absolutely wear Paper Passion, even if it isn’t my absolute favourite. It’s so unusual and would really grab attention.

3. It’s incredibly beautiful and feels fantastic. And then I can’t help seeing how you could have done it even better ... with foils and embossing maybe. But I love the whole concept. Just doing it at all is fabulous.


Nils Ringborg, sales and marketing director at Holmen Paper, with a professional and a personal love of paper.

1. It smells of the countryside and wood... I think it’s got a fresh smell, a bit citrusy. There are lots of good scents in it. It feels like a perfume that would work for men and women.

2. Definitely! Of course!

3. It’s fantastic!


Anna Jansson, author of the books about Detective Inspector Maria Wern and a number of children’s books, loves reading on proper paper.

1. An exclusive scent that makes me think of the moment I had my first book published. I opened the parcel and drank in the aroma. A passionate feeling.

2. I fell in love with the perfume immediately, and wanted to keep it and give it to someone I care about.

3. The most ingenious perfume packaging I’ve ever seen. A beautiful gift to give someone or to spoil yourself with.


Johan Petersson, regional manager of the printing group V-TAB, mad about printed material.

1. I recognise the smell somehow. It smells a bit like wood ... and then there’s something else there as well, almost like baby oil. Yes, I do like the smell!

2. I don’t wear perfume but I could really go for that scent. As shower gel maybe... or for shaving.

3. Looks great! I want one of those!

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The Holmen Group

Holmen is a forest industry group that manufactures printing paper, paperboard and sawn timber and runs forestry and energy production operations. The company’s extensive forest holdings and its high proportion of energy production are strategically important resources for its future growth.

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