Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

Whilst in Rome my wife asked me to pick up some potpourri from a shop close to where I was staying. I wasn’t looking forward to it. What would be more embarrassing – asking for potpourri or trying to use my appalling Italian. As it turned out the experience was incredibly inspiring.

This is some of the most gorgeously crafted packaging I’ve seen for a long time. It’s a range of natural perfumes and cosmetics, infusions and teas based on 17th century herbal recipes. The packaging is the perfect representation of a brand with a history dating back to 1612, featuring lush fabrics and beautifully textured papers.

On approaching the shop it seemed impressive with old wooden doors flanked by gigantic stone pots with perfectly manicured plants. The logo was etched into the window (no cut-vinyl graphics here). Inside the experience is equally impressive – wooden and glass cabinets, intoxicating smells and a Murano chandelier.

The logo is based on the Medici coat of arms framing the portrait of St. Peter the Martyr with a crown topped with the lily of Florence. There is also a snake and a bird, sacred symbols of pharmacology and medicine.

So much history could have overwhelmed the packaging – often a design brief with so many mandatory elements to include can be a bit of a nightmare for the designers. However it’s all handled beautifully by the designers here, providing a rich, sensuous experience perfectly reflecting the products.

There are even luxurious products for cats and dogs. Check out the cute cat shape on this label.


By Nigel Smith




Nigel Smith is the Director of Transformer. He’s currently based in the UK for family reasons but is still actively involved in Transformer’s projects.