For many of us the thought of “home fragrances” too often means the distinctly lavender-ish smell that comes from an unnaturally purple can, the medicinal charms of a Lysol aerosol spray or the mysteriously jiggly … stuff in a plastic dome on the back of the toilet, which is also often purple. But with the increase in lifestyle brands and products and the slow disappearance of flyaway potpourri making our homes smell nice has gotten considerably easier — and less hazardous to the ozone layer.“That´s where I saw the opportunity. I´ve always love home furnishings and decorating and I love fragrance. I have scented candles all over my house. When I lived in Vietnam I lived in this beautiful villa outside Saigon and I wanted to create a brand that encapsulated that lifestyle,” explains founder and managing director of Cochine Saigon Kate Crofton. After relocating to Ho Chi Minh City initially to work for L´Oréal, she gave it up to create a locally sourced, luxurious eau de parfum for the home. “I wanted to create really unique fragrances that could compete on the international stage. And I wanted to create a beautiful diffuser that people would want to put at centre stage in their homes,” she says. Available at Indigo Living, Cochine´s range of candles and reed diffuser sets now count six evocative scents created from essential oils unique to Vietnam: white jasmine & gardenia, Vietnamese rose & delentii, frangipani & neroli, water hyacinth & lime blossom, vanille & tabac noir and agarwood & amber.
Though the why of bringing scents into the home is a valid question, Crofton has a simple theory of home fragrance appeal that is also universal. “I think what home fragrance does, aside from the obvious creating ambience and personalising your living space, is having a strong power of association; you can create feeling. If I walk into a room and someone is wearing my mother´s scent I´m instantly at home. I think home fragrance does that too. Each one of ours was inspired by a moment.” The humidity and tight spaces of Hong Kong make home scent a popular tonic and provide the ideal background scent that is never overwhelming. Crofton likes different scents for different rooms and purposes, as well as seasonal changes. When it comes to format, she notes that diffusers offer continuous scent and are low maintenance, where candles are perfect for creating atmosphere and mood, and they fill a room in ways a diffuser does not. It comes down to personal taste.
Which is not to say there aren´t some rules to live by. “We just launched a four-wick candle, it´s just huge, and I took one home, I was so excited and my husband came home and said, ´Whoa, that´s strong.´ They can be too much. If people comment on a fragrance right away it´s too strong.” Crofton advises the same subtlety with home fragrance we should use with personal scent. No matter how classic Chanel No. 5 is, too much of it is stomach churning and off-putting for guests. “It should enhance a room and shouldn´t be stronger than a vase of cut flowers.”
Cochine is by no means the only aromatic game in town. Retailers from upmarket Lane Crawford, to Citysuper, home décor supplier Tequila Kola to department store Marks & Spencer, and wax specialists The Candle Company to stalwart IKEA make scented candles, reed diffusers or both, and at various price points so there´s no reason your flat (or office) needs to smell like the dim sum restaurant downstairs. Shopping around for a scent that suits you could take time but there´s plenty to choose from — and the time could mean the difference between a scent and an odour.