In the house of Air Wick at the Mall of America

In the house of Air Wick at the Mall of America

In Bloomington, Minnesota, there is a giant mall. In that mall there is a little house with no ceiling, built right in front of the first-floor entrance to Sears. The little house has just three rooms, but each room has its own scent—and its own concept, provided by its own influencer.

“It was fun to leverage pinks,” said lifestyle blogger Kate Arends, whose pink-and-white living room was suffused with the scent of Summer Delights—a combination of flowers, melon, and vanilla. At a Thursday night press event, the fragrance was being subtly emitted by Freshmatic dispensers sitting on high shelves.

“It’s not about odor elimination, it’s about home creation,” said Jane Jin, project lead for Air Wick Life Scents. The house, which will be on display through March 29, showcases the Life Scents concept: one can, three scents. “Your experience is multidimensional,” said Jin.

In the adjacent dining room, Turquoise Oasis (sea spray, driftwood, and “warm breeze”) inspired stylist Wing Ta to create a “tranquil tablescape” with IRL driftwood and white seashells. “I know you hear ‘turquoise,’ but I did something more monochromatic,” she explained. “To me, that’s more relaxing.”

“I typically will decorate my kitchen with food,” said cookbook author Zoë François, frosting a cake in the final room of the house and extolling the scent of Mom’s Baking (pear, pie crust, and vanilla beans). “If my kids come home and smell something baking, everybody’s in a good mood.”

I wondered whether it mightn’t be awkward to have imported scents blending with the scents of actual food, but Ta explained that Life Scents “change with the dynamics” of a situation. If there’s still a bit of sea spray spritzing from the Freshmatic when dinner hits the table, “to have that lingering, I think, is not a bad thing.”

The Home is in the Air Pop-Up Experience is a Minnesota exclusive, but “the story’s going to be amplified” beyond Bloomington via social media, explained Jin.

To that end, there was a live pinning party happening opposite François, with several Mac laptops crowded onto a kitchen counter. “It’s a pinning good time!” said Alia Henson, who works with Air Wick’s marketing agency. Henson and her colleagues were spending two hours posting influencer-inspired pins to a board created for the event.

“The pinning party is going on for two hours,” Henson said, “but the fun part about Pinterest is that it never really ends.”

At the pinning table, the Life Scents innovation was explained to me in concrete terms: the conventional model for a scent is a pyramid, with a top note, a middle note, and a base note. A Life Scent is conceived more along the lines of a triangle, with three different elements all jostling for attention, none obviously dominant over the others.

“It’s so individualized,” Henson said. “Ask ten different people what elements they smell, and you might get ten different answers.” To illustrate the point, Henson asked her colleagues what they were smelling, there in Mom’s Kitchen. “I smell pear,” she volunteered.

“I smell vanilla,” said the next pinner.

“See, and I still get pear.” Henson smiled. “It’s working!”

Jay Gabler