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Miss the smell of the office printer? These candles recreate our prepandemic life

From breakfast leftovers to stale beer, these new candles evoke nostalgia for a different world.

Miss the smell of the office printer? These candles recreate our prepandemic life
[Photo: courtesy R/GA]

It’s 2021. You’re at home for the 390th day in a row. You’re fully vaxxed and having a friend over for the first time. You light a candle to get the ambiance just right.

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No, not the rich and smoky Le Labo 26 or the Byredo Bibliothèque, with notes of peach, peony, leather, and vanilla. You reach for “Thursday Happy Hour on a High Table” with notes of bourbon, White Claw, and a hint of Cheeto. Setting the mood smells a little different in the pandemic era.

[Photo: courtesy R/GA]
The Thursday Happy Hour candle does, in fact, exist. It’s part of a new line of scented candles called Eau d’Office, inspired by a place you probably never thought you’d miss—the office—and crafted by design agency R/GA.

[Photo: courtesy R/GA]
Creative directors Katie Facada and Thibault Gerard initially launched the candles as a goodbye gift to a couple of colleagues, but they were such a hit with staff that they’ve made them available to the masses—for free. Although there is currently a limited quantity, the agency will restock by popular demand, according to Facada. All you have to do is go to the link on the Eau D’Office Instagram page to place an order, and before you can say “Let’s circle back on this,” your apartment will smell just like an overworked copy machine.

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[Photo: courtesy R/GA]
There are six Eau D’Office scents to choose from, including “Breakfast Leftovers in Edit Suite 1,” reminiscent of a bacon, egg, and cheese; a “crisp and inky scent” called “Warm 96 Page Deck Left on the Printer”; and “Sushi Thursday at the Café,” which combines the scent of spicy wasabi with the “zesty cleaning spray” of a just-wiped table. “Afternoon Rush at the Coffee Bar” has been the most popular, according to Facada. (It’s currently out of stock.)

Gerard and Facada worked with Ohio-based Candle Studio over Zoom to create the perfumes and tried to get the scent as authentic to their old office spaces and routines as possible. “As scented-candle makers, they naturally want to make things smell good and had some concerns with what we were trying to achieve with the scents,” recalls Gerard. “For us, it was less about creating ‘perfume-perfect’ scents and more about combining some of the scents to conjure a specific memory.”

[Photo: courtesy R/GA]
Even though some of the scents might seem to be an acquired taste, Facada says you can light them up and have them burn for hours. The only one that might be a bit much? “Room 12F.1 after a 6-hour workshop.” “It’s a fairly strong scent of a mix of male and musky colognes,” she says. “But if you’re into it, yes!”

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[Photo: courtesy R/GA]
In 2021, sensual scents and floral aromatics aren’t the ones we crave. Consumers are nostalgic for our former lives, and brands are responding with scents (and sounds) that transport us there. Earlier this year, Miller Light launched a limited series of candles called “Bar Smells,” with scents such as tobacco and fermented yeast to evoke our favorite dives and game-day bars. Diptyque just launched a cities collection, making travel to Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin a strike of the match away. With nowhere to go, brands are finding new ways to recreate our favorite places at home. The point isn’t really a pretty smell. It’s about evoking a place. And they don’t have to smell good for us to like them.

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About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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