the swedish ethos

May 12, 2012

Doesn’t everyone just love stories of people who weren’t trained in a specific field and still manage to make a name for themselves in spite of it?

“Because for one, perfume is very French—there has been this hierarchy in the industry for so long. Which is good because you have incredible talent, and a refinement, but it’s also become stagnant. So for me, it was all about simplifying, for better or for worse. So as opposed to working with fifty, seventy or eighty raw materials for a fragrance, I work with maybe five or ten. There are these beautiful raw materials—I fight with Chanel to buy specific Neroli—and I thought it was a shame to mask them and cover them with different stuff. Maybe it’s something to do with the Swedish ethos, the simplicity…it was just simplifying in terms of creating a clear idea. So when you smell Accord Oud, you get it. You like it or not.”

“If I took you in the lab for two weeks, and showed you a spectrum, you would probably be able to show me things that remind you of specific memories. You would be able to develop your vocabulary to create a perfume. And that was the first phase for me, trying to understand the possibilities. Now when I walk down the street I can smell a lot more—dirty laundry, etc. I don’t think it’s a heightened sense of smell, it’s just awareness.”

“Because I didn’t go to school for this I had to catch up, but at the same time I didn’t want to become too technical, because I had this possibility to work with two very talented perfumers that do a lot of big work and are immensely creative, and I didn’t want to offset their process. So my idea was to push them in the right direction. I did that with words and raw materials, but also with images, emotion, music and poetry. My briefs were about sitting in a room and getting them to feel something. And hoping I would land close enough to.”
Ben Gorham (x)

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