This Fragrance Brand Puts Iceland in a Bottle

At Jónsi's family business, the Sigur Rós singer is also the lead perfumer.

Two photos from the Fischersund fragrance brand, one showing a bottle of their No 23 fragrance, and one showing the family outside of the shop
From left: the smoky No. 23 ($150), made with Icelandic Sitka spruce, is Fischersund’s best-selling fragrance; the Birgis family outside the Fischersund flagship in Reykjavík. Photo:

Courtesy of Fischersund

For Jónsi Birgisson and his three sisters, growing up in the Icelandic town of Mosfellsbær meant boundless freedom: playing among wet evergreens, running along empty roads . Sometimes, they would swipe a neighbor’s rhubarb, cut off the stalks, and dip them in honey to eat like candy.

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Decades later, Birgisson is known worldwide as simply Jónsi — the solo artist and lead singer of Sigur Rós. He’s also the lead perfumer behind Fischersund, alchemizing the sense-memories of life in Iceland into fragrances that incorporate native ingredients like birch tar and Arctic thyme. Mosfellsbær is the setting for Fischersund's No. 8, bursting with rhubarb and pine.

The brand is a family affair, dreamed up over the dinner table by the creative siblings — Jónsi, Lilja, Inga, and Sigurrós — and their partners, who are artists, too. “We’re separate,” Lilja explains, “but we move as a whole.”

Interior of the Fischersund shop in Iceland
Inside Fischersund's flagship store.

Courtesy of Fischersund

The Fischersund flagship sits on the quiet Reykjavík street it’s named after, inside a 19th-century wooden house that was once Jónsi’s recording studio. The retail space, which also stocks incense, tea, art, and homewares, doubles as a sort of sensory museum — where ambient music plays as visitors sip homemade schnapps and browse whimsical installations like a collection of “fictional flowers,” a collaboration with the all-women writer’s collective Svikaskáld (Impostor Poets). As Lilja puts it, “What’s beautiful about music, and scent, is that you hear, or breathe it in, and you’re transported.”

A version of this story first appeared in the December 2022/January 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Scents of Place."

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