Lancome inaugurates Le Domaine de la Rose, a one-of-a-kind site designed with a global agricultural and architectural approach. The sober, ecologically-minded estate offers a unique opportunity for the general public to discover the brand’s concrete commitments to biodiversity – particularly with regard to the rose – through events and training sessions focusing on perfume plants slated to begin in 2023.
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At the heart of the Grasse region, Lancome has established Le Domaine de la Rose, an ecological horticultural site spanning 9.8 acres (4 hectares). The brand purchased the estate in 2020, not only for the purpose of cultivating its distinctive ingredient – the rose – and other perfume plants, but also to develop a sanctuary for biodiversity to protect the land’s heritage and natural resources.
The project was developed around two major areas: the reinforcement of farming activity through the fresh planting of local species and perfume flowers, as well as the rehabilitation of the existing built and natural heritage, without soil artificialization, through the restoration of the main house using local, recycled, and biosourced materials, and the preservation of the arboreal heritage. Lancome thus becomes the owner, producer, and protector of a complete agricultural and horticultural patrimony, a first for a selective beauty brand. This ecological project, which makes sparing use of resources and materials with restraint and a contemporary approach, reflects the brand’s values and draws on the essence of its origins as a perfume house.
Le Domaine de la Rose is also destined to become a spot for the transmission of professional expertise relating to perfume plants, and the specific perfume savoir-faire of Lancome, as demonstrated by the educational distillery and the perfume organ. Beginning in June 2022, the general public will have the opportunity to discover fragrance compositions produced using the new Rosa x centifolia grown at Le Domaine de la Rose: the new perfume La Vie Est Belle Domaine de la Rose and the fragrance Maison Lancome 1001 Roses.
What makes this estate special is a combination of various types of agronomical expertise that are applied to innovate and to develop the cultivation of perfume plants using sustainable, traceable, organic methods. Le Domaine has been farmed for approximately five centuries, and the former owners have been considered pioneers in organic rose and perfume plant cultivation for more than 50 years. The brand is following this approach, using agroforestry methods and protecting the estate’s unique agricultural and architectural heritage, such as dry-stone walls*, water channels, and trees. No fewer than 163 species of plants are present on the estate, providing a habitat for 33 species of birds, 31 species of butterflies, 8 species of dragonflies, 12 species of bats, and other animals observed and recorded in a biodiversity audit** that serves as a guide for the brand’s endeavors.
This ecological site is an integral part of Lancome’s corporate social and environmental responsibility strategy, which aims to reduce the overall ecological footprint of its products, from the cultivation and processing of the ingredients to the products’ use and end-of-life. With Le Domaine de la Rose, the brand is taking care to limit its impact on biodiversity, since the decline in biodiversity is a phenomenon adversely affecting the preservation of the earth’s ecosystems and their resilience to physical changes. Today, Lancome uses 99% organic roses in its skincare and makeup products. By 2025, the brand plans to use 100% organic roses, 60% of which will be grown in France.
“The rose has always been important to Lancome. We are happy and proud of this purchase, which reinforces our presence in Grasse, the world birthplace of perfumery. The brand, which is already established in the region, particularly through a noteworthy exploitation of a rose field in Valensole for its skincare ranges, will continue growing its own proprietary roses as part of its responsible, traceable sourcing approach. Our aspiration was to restore the estate with respect for its agricultural vocation and the equilibrium of biodiversity, while integrating modern and sustainable renovation techniques. In an effort to pass along its expertise, Lancome also intends on sharing the traditional savoir-faire of the Rose with both internal and external audiences through the acquisition of this property,” Françoise Lehmann, General Director of Lancome International.
Lancome’s clear intention to carry out this sober, sustainable project is as radical as its commitment. The project was executed by the architects Lucie Niney and Thibault Marca from the NeM agency, based on a passive bioclimatic design. The existing dry-stone walls** were conserved and restored according to the traditional method, and the new agricultural buildings are constructed in harmony with the appearance of those stone walls in order to blend in with the natural landscape. While the new Rose House was renovated in keeping with the size and architectural identity of the existing Provence-style home, it takes on a contemporary appearance using colors and materials true to the heritage and expertise of the Grasse region. As for the conversion of the principal building, the materials used for the outdoor cladding, roofs and carpentry are all pink, limiting the color scheme of the space to create a coherent whole. Pink is one of the local colors: it is naturally present in the flowers and plants of the region, and it often adorns the facades of houses in Grasse, in addition to reflecting the brand’s image.
In a spirit of energy conservation and ecological renovation seeking to reduce the environmental impact of its entire life cycle, the walls of the main house have been renovated and insulated from the exterior with a combination of lavender straw and wood fiber, coated with pink lime plaster. The ecological site features a water recuperation-and-reuse system, as well as an irrigation system that uses rainwater, that aims to ensure water self-sufficiency, and makes use of renewable energies. Moreover, its air conditioning is provided by a geothermal heat pump completed by the natural ventilation of a ground-coupled heat exchanger. These installations have enabled the project to gain the BDM (Batiment Durable Mediterranean or Sustainable Mediterranean Building) Gold certification.
*Dry stone walls support fields grown along terraces, built to prevent landslides of cultivated hillsides.
**An inventory of the biodiversity is conducted to develop the database of the Biodiversity Atlas of Grasse and is an integral part of the objectives of the Grasse Ecological Transition Contract (CTE).
Olivier VAN DONSELAAR: