How Diptyque is Growing While Staying True to Its Founding Spirit

Over 60 years have passed since Diptyque came into existence. The Parisian brand has evolved through the decades, but as its international commercial director Eric Cauvin tells us, it’s done with reverence of the brand’s beginnings
Published: 17 February 2024
Diptyque international commercial director Eric Cauvin.

We are sat in a private salon towards the back of Diptyque’s latest store in Singapore. It’s the third standalone Diptyque store on the island, and it is ensconced in Ion Orchard’s revamped beauty-centric B2 level, flanked by multi-label Escentials and Jo Malone London—the former would officially open the next day.

For a small city and market like Singapore, opening a third standalone store seems excessive, especially since they are all concentrated within the central region. Eric Cauvin concedes. “We do have three stores here, which is quite a lot. But if we’ve opened this third store, it’s because the first two been successful. We have had a love story with Singapore for many, many years,” reasons Diptyque’s international commercial director.

That love story is perhaps the most apparent in this latest Ion Orchard outpost. Cauvin politely asks for the door of the room to be opened—the brand was getting ready to host a lavish opening party here a few hours later—and raises his arms towards the fresco that envelops the given space outside. Pastel green walls have been handpainted with a plethora of random blooms that extend to the ceiling—the work of one Jacky Mak. The Singaporean artist has also lent his hand to the walls at the front of the store, creating a monochromatic teaser to the floral burst at the back.

“Did you also see the ropes as you walked through the store? Those are by another Singaporean artist, Natalia Tan,” Cauvin tells us. “This is our way of forming a connection with the local population, through its own artists, and we decided to make it really unique.” Mak’s murals and Tan’s braided rope knots are not the only Singaporean works that are contributing to the new store’s eclectic aesthetic. Furniture pieces—the likes of an orange lacquered table that was crafted in Singapore, as well as a mirror trimmed with wooden components by Singapore-based Studio Kallang—fill the space. The latter’s pieces have also found their way into a number of other Diptyque stores at home and abroad. The studio’s latest contribution is fixed atop a central fireplace akin to what you’d find in a typical Haussmann apartment in Paris.

Murals by Jacky Mak, and braided ropes by Natalia Tan are two of the Singaporean touches to the Diptyque Ion Orchard store.

“Every Diptyque store is unique; you wouldn’t find any two having the same look,” says Cauvin. “If you go to Japan, and then Paris, you’ll see some very nice stores but they’re all completely different from one another. But they’ll all have the same spirit and the same chemistry of local artistic collaboration. Our founders were artists, all three of them, so it’s really important that we keep that spirit.”

While many are familiar with Diptyque’s fragrances and candles that are almost always adorned with a playful arrangement of its typeface, its origin story is often left undiscussed.

Diptyque didn’t start out with what it’s now categorically known for. The brand’s founders—three friends with a passion for the arts and craftsmanship—launched Diptyque in 1961 at 34 boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris’ fifth arrondissement. It was a multi-label concept space with a selection of objects sourced from all over the world, or as Cauvin tells us, “It was the Colette before Colette” (referencing the now-defunct multi-label boutique that was the style and design space of Paris from 1997 to 2017). The candles were conceived in 1963, and fragrances introduced five years later.

Vessels take on artistic forms, perfect for displaying.

It is precisely this heritage of being enthralled by artistry—not just French but also of many different cultures—and collecting and presenting them in a unique way that Diptyque continues to embody throughout its expanding range. Modernism is always at the forefront of the brand, and that extends to the design of all its products.

Les Mondes de Diptyque refillable candles, for example, are a revolution for the brand, both in concept and design. Instead of the maximalist labels, the glass vessel in itself is a work of art, comprising three stacked oval-shaped tiers with “Diptyque” elegantly spelt out at the bottom centre and the brand’s original address in its usual layout at the top. A glass cap features Diptyque’s fragrance burner emblem. Every design element—save for the Diptyque branding on the vessel’s body—is shaped from the glass itself, creating a seamless and minimalist look.

The various ways to scent the home at Diptyque.

“The refillable candle is an evolutive version of the candle, but if you know our range, there are electric diffusers, and some new products that will come that are totally different. We need to keep being innovative in the way we scent the home, so you may be surprised at some of the new things coming but it’s important for us to make sure that we’re still the ones driving and creating,” explains Cauvin. There is a constant need to evolve and innovate, yes. But at the same time, as Cauvin reiterates throughout our conversation, it’s necessary for everything to make sense and tied to the origins of Diptyque.

Stepping back into Diptyque’s Ion store, it feels like entering the home of a collector—not just of art, but also of craft-centric pieces as though from a lifetime of travelling the world. Certainly, the foundations are Parisian and undeniably chic, but every element is a careful curation of experiences and stories. And as you smell each of the candles, you are transported to the exact moment they were designed to encapsulate—a magic that still permeates our spaces more than 60 years later.

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