A Tour of a Scent Maker’s Brooklyn Brownstone



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Inside a Scent Maker’s Brooklyn Brownstone

CreditSasha Arutyunova for The New York Times


Name Fabrice Penot

Age 42

Occupation Co-founder, Le Labo fragrances

Location Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

His favorite room The loftlike first floor of the 19th-century brownstone that he and his partner, Jennifer Medley, recently gut-renovated. Life in the house revolves around the couple’s three children, as did the open design. “I wanted to see the kids play and be connected visually with them, with their joy,” Mr. Penot said.

Has your plan worked, or do the kids escape to their rooms? They aren’t yet teenagers. They play a lot here. There is a lot of knitting happening. There is music. We gather at this table. It’s an Ikea table or something, and we had it, like, 10 years ago when we met. We can’t get rid of it. We pay tribute to it. It’s part of our memories now. Our kids grew up eating on it.

Your home is pretty uncluttered for three kids. I hate owning stuff. The rest of the house, it’s mattresses on the floor. It’s getting worse as I get older. I like to feel that there is nothing that we couldn’t leave behind.

Nothing? There are a few pieces that I really love. Like the stools at the table. I adore these stools. They’re by BassamFellows, these two designers whose work is incredible. One stool is maybe six times the cost of the table, but it fits. They don’t overshadow.

What’s this strange little wood box affixed with a light bulb? This is patented technology that I designed myself. It’s my first patent. It’s a diffuser that brings molecules of perfume into the air. We are producing a few hundred of them. The wood we use is reclaimed water-tank rooftop wood.

Pick out something from your bookshelf that means a lot to you. “Oeuvres” by Emil Cioran. He’s a Romanian philosopher. This book I go back to all the time. I wanted to be a writer and a publisher when I was much younger. Before I started writing perfume formulas, I tried to write books.

I did a nine-month backpacking trip in South America when I was 22. There was no Kindle, that’s how old I am. The only book I brought was this. There is even a page mark still in here with the address of the casa particular in Cuba. Trust me, when you are a backpacker, to carry this weight? You must love the book.

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