Fragrance designer Haisam Mohammed on the sweet smell of success
The Unifrom founder and Soho House Stockholm member reveals the inspiration behind his brand
Wednesday 15 March 2023 By Soho House Photography by Danny Chan
Following the opening of Soho House Stockholm late last year, we look inside the creative minds and spaces that inspire our community, in partnership with COS.
When it comes to sparking memories, Proust famously had his madeleine. For 26-year-old Soho House Stockholm member Haisam Mohammed, however, the most evocative scents – and inspiration for his luxury fragrance brand Unifrom – lie in the heart of Stockholm’s residential high rises.
‘Scent was such a big part of my culture,’ he says of the blend of spices, incense and cooking aromas that filled the stairwells of his youth. ‘I wanted to create a brand that was based on the opposite of the conventional reference that perfumers have.’
This conscious move away from the bases of florals and botanicals in ‘traditional’ perfume has proven to be a hit. Already widely available in Europe, Unifrom is expanding to new markets in Asia and the US. In addition, Mohammed’s atypical approach has led to a slew of fashion tie-ins, most recently on the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week.
To celebrate his success, we joined Mohammed to walk us through his day, from his favourite lunch spot in Hötorgshallen food market to a ferry ride around the Stockholm archipelago, before heading back to Soho House – dressed in a suitably sleek shearling bomber jacket by COS (whose flagship store on Biblioteksgatan is located just a few minutes’ walk from the House).
Watch the video on Instagram and read on for more about Mohammed’s influences and inspirations.
‘Unifrom is a perfume house built out of Swedish high rises. I was inspired by the scent in the stairwells of families blending spices, burning incense, or cooking food. The brand is founded in the diaspora, imagining the next generation of luxury perfume.’
‘Being a bit naive when it comes to your ideas can be a good thing. That will let you start projects without perhaps knowing how hard it will get. Entering rooms that I was not “supposed” to be in was one way for me to succeed. Things got much easier as soon as I became comfortable in uncomfortable situations; I could focus on the task ahead, instead of what people were thinking about me.’
‘Scent is such an abstract format – branding has become my way of turning that abstract idea into something concrete. We like to find ways to experience our perfumes in different contexts. We are currently looking to collaborate with sound designers who can translate our fragrances into audio and perhaps have more people explore our scents without having to smell them first.’
‘I just wrapped up a project that entailed scenting a runway show during Paris Fashion Week. We’re now developing scented fashion show installations. That will allow guests to use an additional sense to understand the clothes – it also gives brands another way of communicating their creative vision.’
‘I don’t even try to maintain a work-life balance. I have made my passion projects into what I work with full time. That means that it’s something that I enjoy doing and don’t consider as work. I also try to involve my loved ones in the business, so I can spend as much time with them as possible.’
‘Soho House gives me a secure base when I’m travelling. It’s a place where I can get inspired and motivated, or just shut down and relax after a hectic day. Either way, I’ll be drinking tea.’
All clothing by COS.
Apply for membership at Soho House Stockholm