Liam Sardea (LKNU): “We attempt to get everybody to attract their very own constellation on this huge universe.”

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After debuting online, in 2021, the independent perfumery LKNU opened in a luxury shopping mall in Melbourne. His choice of approximately sixty brands is accompanied by a decidedly different approach to sales and customer experience. Interview with Liam Sarde, Professor of Aesthetics Research at the University of Melbourne and education manager in LKNU.

How was LKNU born?

The impetus came from the experience of our founder Lee, a former accountant who became a make-up artist specializing in special effects. Once she wanted to indulge in perfume for a special occasion and then she realized that buying perfume in Melbourne had nothing to do with buying perfume in Paris or elsewhere in Europe: her choice was limited, as was the quality of the advice. got. It should be noted that the olfactory culture here really is not the same as in France. And even though Lee finally decided to crash de Piguet – which is not bad! – This made her think about the experience that is being offered to an increasing number of people who are interested in perfumes here in Australia. Eventually, she wanted to open her own store. LKNU started online in 2015 and the physical address opened in 2021, which is the second time that has allowed us deconfinement. My titleeducation manager and the role I play in the store is at the service of LKNU’s primary ambition: to work for a olfactory culture, to pass on knowledge about perfumes to those who want it, and to raise standards of communication with our customers. Because olfactory-specific vocabulary tends to marginalize all those who do not control it. Nevertheless, it is quite possible to establish a dialogue without it. I always say to our clients, “Even if you don’t tell me what you need, it brings me closer to what you need.”

How do you choose the brands you sell?

It is important that our employees themselves are convinced of the brands we sell. As a small team, we have managed to implement a selection process that includes all our employees. We meet and debate regularly, we discuss. Everyone argues for or against the suggestions of others, and we try to reach a consensus. These meetings are the first place where we exercise our belief that everyone has something to say about the scent. As far as the selection of brands that we subject to these selection meetings is concerned, it does not meet any logic or predetermined criteria: discovery is always a surprise. We are definitely open to any creative design, but we will leave only those that have real inner qualities. Therefore, it is a strong desire for us not to limit ourselves to French and Italian perfumery: for example, we have many Thai brands.

What appeals to lovers of specialized perfumes in Melbourne?

Personally, I see two categories here: on the one hand, those who carry Sandalwood 33 laboratory a Baccarat red 540 by Francis Kurkdjian; connoisseurs who follow trends and love scents with strong influence and immediate charm. On the other hand, those who want to smell “differently”. Here in Australia, European fragrance culture is finally beginning to spread. So there are amateurs who are looking for interesting, original creations. I like to think that we at LKNU move lines one customer at a time. That we allow people to discover that perfume, in addition to simply smelling, can tell a story, convey a message, express a personality.

How do you define the experience you offer your customers?

First, we assume that our business is ” safe space a place where they can try it freely and safely. The goal is to provide our customers with enough convenience to submit suggestions that are beyond their habits. I would like to remind you that Australians are “omnivores”: in Melbourne, for example, we are used to consuming a very wide range of cuisines. They are available anywhere, anytime during the day or night. It’s important to remember this, because this openness really allows you to lead them to different creations if you do it slowly. You just have to find the connection. For example, if I advise a person to wear Portrait of a lady from Éditions de parfums Frédéric Malle, a patchouli rose in the Baroque style, I would like to know how to introduce a new element without a radical change of decor: perhaps a rose with oak moss, e.g. sweet water of the Perfume of the Empire. Or Rose Oud lähde: Nicolaia. Ultimately, LKNU offers a universe where there are no predefined constellations; but it helps each client make connections, recognize patterns that make sense to him. We try to make everyone in this vast universe draw their own constellation.

What leads your customers to come to LKNU?

Our shop is already very beautiful! The circulation is smooth and the light atmosphere responds to materials, light oak and velvet. When it comes to mirrors – on the ceiling, on the walls and on presentation tables – they give a feeling of space and openness. It is a relaxing aesthetic. Then there is the freedom we try to convey to those who come to visit us: we encourage people to explore, without having to force them to buy. Finding a scent that speaks to your soul can take a while. We combine these two luxuries of time and space.

What obstacles do you see for your customers?

Something we often notice, especially in men, is a form of fear. I interpret this as a logical consequence of a series of too often failed experiments: there is nothing worse than going to a perfumery and slapping your fingers for not using the right words as if we were in school. But many men have already experienced this. The result is nervous customers. After all, it is still and always a problem of language: he is afraid to say the wrong things, he will not understand them. At LKNU, we encourage our customers to use the words they want, because their personal references, their own way of expressing things, are valuable clues for our salespeople.

What do you do with a perfume that doesn’t sell as well as you hoped?

Every perfume has its time. If she was chosen consistently, if she is qualitative, we are convinced that the hour will come.

More information on the LKNU website:


  • An increasingly rare confidential perfumery from Jessica Mignot
  • Sylviane Lust (Beauty by Kroonen): “We choose the complex scents that develop on the skin and where the freedom it offers to the perfume is visible. from Jessica Mignot
  • Karine Torrent (Floratropia): “In my opinion, 100% natural perfumery is a new place”, by Jessica Mignot
  • Barbara Herman (Eris Parfums): “With knowledge or not, with every novelty I tend to explore a path very different from the previous one”, by Sarah Bouasse
  • Cécile Zarokian: “It is possible to win against big design houses,” by Guillaume Tesson
  • Pissara Umavijani (Dusita): “The biggest problem for a perfumer is to express their signature in various registers,” Sarah Bouasse
  • Clara Feder and Michel Gutsatz (The Rediscovered Garden): “We strive to build a balanced collection, following our motto: the avant-garde as a heritage,” by Jessica Mignot
  • Liam Sardea (LKNU): “We try to make everyone draw their own constellations in this vast universe,” by Sarah Bouasse

To be continued :
Dhaher bin Dhaher (Tola), Luca Maffei (Atelier Fragranze Milano), Nathalie Feisthauer, Franco Wright (Luckyscent), Galilu…

Sarah Bouasse

Freelance journalist Sarah researches, talks and photographs perfumes and fragrances, especially on her Flair blog. As a freelance journalist, Sarah researches, talks and photographs perfumes and fragrances, especially on her Flair blog.

See all his articles

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