Firmenich Appoints Three Master Perfumers

L to R: François-Raphaël Balestra, Wessel-Jan Kos and Haresh Totlani named Firmench master perfumers.
L to R: François-Raphaël Balestra, Wessel-Jan Kos and Haresh Totlani named Firmench master perfumers.
C/O Firmenich

Firmenich has appointed three new master perfumers. François-Raphaël Balestra, Wessel-Jan Kos and Haresh Totlani will join Firmenich’s group of master perfumers dedicated to consumer fragrances for Beauty and Home Care divisions. 

Related: Firmenich Releases 2022 Sustainability Performance Report

Firmenich CEO Gilbert Ghostine said, “Firmenich’s innovation and deep understanding of consumer habits and preferences enable us to deliver market-leading fragrances. What makes us stand out is our perfumers’ spark of creative genius. Their mastery makes for the truly successful touch that inspires consumers to fall in love with our customers' brands and products. I am delighted to welcome three new Firmenich Master Perfumers who have shown excellence in their field, commitment to our values and who act as true role models for the whole community of perfumers.”

Ilaria Resta, global president, Perfumery, commented, “Our three new master perfumers have over 80 years of experience at the cutting edge of perfumery innovation, and their path to this level shows their dedication, work ethic, and a strong commitment to their craft. They combine exceptional creativity with an understanding of technology to augment performance, as well as an innate ability to drive customer intimacy by understanding consumer insights and anticipating future trends in a complex and ever-changing market. One of the biggest missions of masters is to leave a long-lasting legacy in the market with their creations that live the test of time and become icons, as well as with their dedication to pass their experience to the younger generations to create the masters of the future.”

François-Raphaël Balestra is a Swiss national who graduated from EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, with a master’s in chemical engineering. He joined Firmenich in 1999. Together with his role as a perfumer for beauty care and home care products, creating olfactive signatures of major laundry products all over the globe, he is also the head of New Ingredients Discovery for Perfumery at Firmenich. Here he works in close collaboration with R&D on the screening of new generations of molecules and biotechnology ingredients to integrate into the perfumer’s palette and enhance perfumery creations. Balestra notably collaborated on the creation of Dreamwood, a white biotechnology innovation inspired by sandalwood that is 100% natural, 100% renewable carbon and ultimately biodegradable and Muguissimo, a close to nature Lily-of-the-Valley note born from green synthesis.

Balestra’s vocation to become a perfumer started with his first visit to Firmenich Geneva’s offices at the age of seven, as the son of a now retired perfume lab assistant who had spent 40 years in the company. His fascination for the work of perfumers and the variety of raw ingredients naturally led him to become a perfumer.

Balestra shared, “Inspiration always comes from the ingredients first, they stimulate my creativity, especially our proprietary ingredients that embody the soul of Firmenich, they express our uniqueness, our difference, and our commitment to perfection,” he says.

Wessel-Jan Kos, a Dutch national from Hilversum, is a third-generation perfumer after his father and self-taught grandfather. His career as a Firmenich perfumer spans more than three decades. A graduate of ISIPCA, Kos is an all-around perfumer creating fragrances for all beauty care and home care applications for various brands, winning over 200 new products a year over the past decade. Kos’ career at Firmenich has taken him around the globe to Geneva, Dubai, London, Cologne and Princeton, USA. During his years in the United Kingdom, he was the vice president of the British Society of Perfumers. Kos has been instrumental in the development of malodor counteraction technologies at Firmenich, putting his name to several patents. He has also contributed to the rise of biotechnology ingredients over the last years, notably Z11 HD, 100% biodegradable and made from 100% renewable carbon.

Kos commented, “I like my fragrances to be simple and direct so that people immediately understand what I intend to create."

Haresh Totlani has been with Firmenich for the last 24 years, in Geneva, Singapore, Mumbai and London. He has created fragrances for many brands in Asia and Europe, as well as regional and local brands in many categories, especially for soap, shower gels, shampoos, fabric softeners and laundry detergents. Totlani, an Indian national, holds a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Mumbai and completed an Executive MBA Program from Kellogg-HKUST. From 2012 to 2015, he was the head of Firmenich’s Creation Center in India, a role given for the first time to a perfumer. He has been a mentor to many younger Firmenich trainee perfumers and fragrance evaluators and is a winner of the Patrick Firmenich Award both in 2019 and 2020, recognizing his creative excellence and his use of Firmenich ingredients to bring unique signatures to customers’ products. Totlani believes “perfumes change the way people feel. It makes them happy and confident.”

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