By Wilson Astley
The sequel to our finding a fragrancer blog. (To avoid a rather banal spoiler we suggest reading that one first.)
One company I met in Paris really understood our project better than any other were Parks London. They were able to help us in both fragrancing and filling of our candles.
With almost 30 years of experience, an array of absolutely stunning fragrances and some incredibly helpful and friendly staff, they really made our choice pretty easy!
My rather scant brief for our fragrances was to create two contrasting fragrant candles. What I’d learned from Maison&Objet was that the concepts that candles were being used to explain were ambitious, and complex. For example whilst in Paris I met with the producers of Skandinavisk, whose NORDLYS candle fragrance is designed to represent the Aurora Borealis: “Magical, elusive, indefinable… one of nature’s seven wonders, a symphony of colour, movement and scale once thought by ancient norse chroniclers to be sun flares, great ocean fires or glacial fluorescence”… All of that… In a smell! And I know you’re going to think I’m insane, but that is what it smells of! I know that greenish electrical activity in the upper atmosphere probably doesn’t have much of a fragrance, and even if it did, I certainly can’t reference it to know… But I urge you, go and smell a NORDLYS! It smells of the Northern Lights.
Whilst trying to channel this ambition, I rewrote my brief to try and describe in an abstract way, the huge contrasts that exist within the Indian subcontinent. Industry vs. Nature. Beauty vs. Functionality. Vastness vs. Congestion. How could we capture this polarisation in a fragrance?
“The Indian subcontinent is one of contrast – high mountains and flooding lowlands are inhabited alongside changing seasons from wild monsoon to drought. Capturing this polarisation are our two new contrasting fragrances – Uttara (meaning North) and Dakshin (meaning South)”
To aid the guys at Parks London find an appropriate fragrance for our story, I created two visual representations of how I imagined the candles. I then transformed these two contrasting visualisations into short video clips that explained Dakshin, and Uttara respectively.
Uttara – Visualisation of the fragrance
Dakshin – Visualisation of the fragrance
Parks responded brilliantly to these videos, and invited me into their studio to help match the visual to a fragrance. This was something that filled me with trepidation. I felt I lacked the vocabulary and nouse to sit and have a meeting about smell with these guys. But I needn’t have worried. The videos worked. Uttara came to be a fresh, energising, warm, fragrance with undertones of assam, pomelo, and amber whereas Dakshin became a dark, seductive, industrial, fragrance with undertones of tar, oakmoss and patchouli.
Completely contrasting fragrances, yet respectively referencing the aura of India, our scented candles were made with (almost edible) 100% natural waxes, with soot-free wicks. Here is a link to Uttara and Dakshin, on our website.