Véronique Massei: “Maison Berger, a living heritage company in France”

Véronique Massei, who has lived in Brazil for over 25 years and graduated from the Versailles perfumery school, opens the doors of her boutique in São Paulo to introduce us to French know-how in home fragrances. Visit :

Véronique Massei, can you tell us about your fragrant career in the color of Brazil?

I attended the Versailles perfumery school (ISIPCA) and then worked for a perfume creation company in Paris. It was here that I met my husband and accompanied him on an expatriation to Italy and then to Brazil. Here I became a correspondent for a professional perfume and cosmetics magazine “International Cosmétique News”. I took advantage of this period of part-time work to have a second child.

So we decided to stay in Brazil and create our company Fragrance Expertise International. We offer advice on perfume development for Brazilian companies, perfumery courses for companies in the sector and market studies for foreign companies that wish to establish themselves here.

We’ve been working on home fragrances for ten years. A friend suggested that we import Lampes Berger into Brazil. At the time, I had an image of Lampe Berger at my grandmother’s house, I thought it was kind of old-fashioned. But I discovered that this brand had evolved a lot and that home fragrances had great potential in Brazil. Present in 50 countries, it is one of the most brilliant French brands in the world in this sector. Today we are 4 associates and we have a store in Moema.

Maison Berger collection lamp / Vincent Bosson

Maison Berger: French know-how

The company is now called Maison Berger Paris as it has diversified its portfolio and offers a whole range of home fragrances to complement the famous Lampes Berger. It is a brand that is part of the Living Heritage Companies of France. These are companies that have exceptional French know-how.

Lampe Berger started in 1898 with pharmaceutical trainer Maurice Berger who wanted to purify the air in hospitals. He invented a catalytic lamp process, with a burner. The first lamp was hung in the hospital corridors. Alcohol-based, the formula is poured into a glass container, inside which there is a wick.

In fact, it’s a ritual.

For the catalysis reaction to occur, it requires heat. You need to light the burner with a flame and let it burn for two minutes. Then you have to blow and finally let the catalysis reaction take place.

This exclusive and patented burner, made in France in Limoges, allows the complete destruction of unpleasant odors (cigarette, cooking, humidity) and at the same time allows an incomparable perfume from the air.

In the 20th century, art and technology made it possible to create lamps in decorated porcelain, in glass, in crystal (St Louis, Lalique). Some pieces from the 1920s have recently been reissued as “The Artichoke”. Today we still have exceptional models, our “Art Editions” which are limited series created by designers from various worlds like fashion (Lolita Lempicka, Ines de la Fressange), art like Hilton McConnico whose work called “Fifi”, has a monkey on top of the cover.

There is now a second-hand market on the websites to buy or exchange old lamps and since 1993 for passionate amateurs there is an association “the circle of collectors of Berger lamps”.

How do you define the home fragrance culture in Brazil?

When I arrived in Brazil, more than 25 years ago, there were no air fresheners. When I asked at the time where I could buy candles to decorate my table, I was told that in Brazil there are white candles for the Church and red for macumbas…

Today, when Brazilian customers come to my store in São Paulo, they want fresh, citrusy scents like verbena, bergamot, marine notes. They don’t like floral scents that are too heavy, too heady, or fruity, sticky notes. They prefer the classics, such as lavender, orange blossom, woody notes, slightly drier, oriental or amber.

Aromatherapy is also in fashion and we offer different fragrances, with essential oils of grapefruit, cloud of clove, eucalyptus and cedar, or even patchouli in our line of scented bouquets (“Les brins of perfumes”).

Do you have a perfume book to recommend?

“Essence selector” by Dominique Roque, a “sourcer” for the perfume industry. For more than 30 years, he has searched for the most exceptional aromas, from Laos to Haiti, through India and beyond.

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