The Return of Incense

When it comes to home fragrance scented candles currently hold the number one spot in the Western world. We think it's time to recalibrate and welcome incense back into our homes...

BY DEE IVA

The Fizz is a big fan of the fragrant home. From fresh floral scents in summer to warm spices and amber in winter, the right home fragrance lifts your spirits the moment you open the door.

The ubiquitous scented candle has become the go-to purchase in recent years. Every major fashion house and perfume brand has a collection of seductive scents to tempt you. The high street is also in on the game offering budget options along with that other mainstay of home fragrance the reed diffuser.

Incense sticks, however, seem to have dropped off the radar altogether but we think their return is long overdue. They can be left burning without the risk of setting fire to soft furnishings and, unlike candles, don’t leave a residue of soot on the ceiling. Their fragrance packs a mighty punch and is stronger than that from reed diffusers which have to be inverted when their scent grows weak.

Previous hippy associations may once have made them deeply unhip but now the beau monde is seeking out decidedly more upmarket versions to scent their design-savvy homes. Smart incense sticks are harder to find than candles and diffusers so we’ve tracked down five of the best to buy right now.

ABOVE: The 'Circa' incense gift set by Cinnamon Projects features a solid brass burner and disc

CINNAMON PROJECTS
New York-based Cinnamon Projects is the brainchild of Andrew Cinnamon and Charlie Stackhouse, whose cutting-edge incense sets using solid brass and semi-precious stones take luxe to a new level. Fittingly for the city that never sleeps, its five fragrances are named after different hours of the day starting at ‘7am’ with meditative black tea, clay, driftwood and marigold through to ‘2am’ with wafts of decadent cedarwood, cinnamon, honey and vetiver. New scent 'You Are Here' is an intoxicating blend of clay, immortelle, patchouli, rose, musk and sandalwood. The elegant Japanese-style incense sticks burn for 25 minutes each.
cinnamonprojects.com

Incense gift sets from US$105. Each set includes 50 incense sticks (10 from each fragrance ie '7am', '4pm', '8pm', '12am' and '2am') and a solid brass burner. The special 'Circa Minerals' set also comes with a semi-precious stone disc, with eight choices including rose quartz, black onyx and lapis lazuli. Refill packs of 25 sticks, US$30 each, are packaged in a glass tube and paper foil-stamped gift box. 'Incense Discovery Set', US$55 for 50 incense sticks (as before). 'You Are Here', US$40 for 25 incense sticks 


FORNASETTI PROFUMI
Iconic Milanese design atelier Fornasetti is a firm Fizz favourite. Its home fragrance arm Fornasetti Profumi is responsible for a wide range of stylish home scents all presented in beautifully designed ceramic holders.

TOP: Fornasetti Profumi 'Otto' incense set with 'Pistola' incense box
ABOVE: The smart 'Otto' ceramic-lidded incense boxes come in six different designs
BELOW: 'Flora di Fornasetti' incense sticks refill pack; Ceramic-lidded box designs 'Fior di Bacio' and 'Ortensia' feature the lips and eyes of Fornasetti muse Lina Cavilieri respectively

Two incense fragrances are available, each with its own set of handcrafted wooden boxes with decorated ceramic lids. ‘Otto’ is Fornasetti’s signature scent redolent with Mediterranean herbs and woody undertones. Created by master perfumer Olivier Polge, it is grand and sophisticated yet immediately relaxing. ‘Flora di Fornasetti’ is a white floral bouquet inspired by the gardens around the family house in Milan and the floral illustrations of Piero Fornasetti. Created by Emmanuel Philip, its pretty notes of jasmine, lily of the valley and tuberose are perfect for hazy summer days.
fornasetti.com

Incense boxes, including 80 sticks, £145. Refill packs of 80 sticks, £45


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ASTIER DE VILLATE
Founded by Benoît Astier de Villatte and Ivan Pericoli in 1996, French homewares brand Astier de Villatte is best known for its 18th and 19th century-inspired handmade range of ceramics and glassware produced in an antique Bastille workshop in Paris. A collaboration in 2008 with Japanese fragrance company Takasago saw it branch out into the world of perfume, scented candles and incense.

The newest incense fragrance ‘Awaji’ blends jasmine, resin, driftwood and immortelle resulting in a welcoming sweet woody scent. Created by Nathalie Feisthauer and made on the Japanese island of Awaji, it joins Astier de Villatte’s existing collection of 12 incense aromas, all discreetly packaged in its distinctive illustrated blue and cream boxes.
astierdevillatte.com

TOP: Astier de Villatte's new scent 'Awaji' 
ABOVE RIGHT:
Each box contains 125 sticks for €36 


CZECH & SPEAKE 
High-end British bathroom retailer Czech & Speake is one of London’s smartest retail brands. Established in 1980 in Jermyn Street by Frank Sawkins, its name is synonymous with quality and timeless English style. Its incense collections capture two of Czech & Speake's most popular fragrances. 'No.88', Czech & Speake’s signature scent, has notes of bergamot, geranium, rose otto, vetiver and sandalwood while ‘Frankincense and Myrrh’ has exotic oriental ingredients including warm frankincense and tangy myrrh coupled with orange, lemon and basil. Both scents are available in kits and as giant sticks for outdoor use.
czechandspeake.com

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TOP: Incense stick kits, including 80 sticks and bone china holder, from £105. Refill packs of 20 sticks, £25 each.
ABOVE: 'Giant Outdoor Incense Sticks', £35 for 12 sticks.


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COMMES DES GARCONS
Leftfield Japanese fashion house Commes des Garçons has always been the must-have brand for fashionistas looking for something off the beaten track and its range of perfumes has been as offbeat as its fashion.

CDG’s five incense aromas are inspired by spiritual teachings: ‘Avignon’ – Catholicism, ‘Ouarzazate’ – Islam, ‘Zagorsk’ – Orthodox Christianity, ‘Jaisalmer’ – Hinduism, ‘Kyoto’ – Buddhism and Shintoism. Now available as eau de toilette and scented candles, the original incense sticks are becoming harder to find. Only 'Avignon' (Roman chamomile, elemi and vanilla), 'Jaisalmer' (cinnamon, cardamom and amber), 'Ourzazate' (nutmeg, labdanum, musk and wenge) and 'Zagorsk' (pimento berries, birch wood and iris) are still available and are in limited supply. We advise you to be quick off the mark…
commesdesgarcons.com

Commes des Garçons 'Series 3' incense sticks, £35 for 40 sticks. Currently available from doverstreetmarket.com, selfridges.com and notino.co.uk

Urban Apothecary

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British home fragrance brand Urban Apothecary crafts candles and diffusers that capture moods and memories

BY AMY BRADFORD

Tajinder Banwait started her home fragrance brand, Urban Apothecary, at her kitchen table, but you’d never know it from the sophisticated smoky glass packaging with minimalist labels. Each of her 10 scented candles and diffusers are hand-crafted in Britain and capture a different personal memory, from walking in woodland after rain to catching a waft of scent from a passing stranger. Highlights of the range include the autumnal ‘Bay Berry’, which combines sage-leaf and blackberry with undertones of caramel, and the sensual ‘Tuberose Petals’, which teams the creamy white flower with carnation, sandalwood and coconut.
urbanapothecarylondon.com

TOP: Urban Apothecary's 'Verbena Leaves' reed diffuser and scented candle in minimal black and white. ABOVE: 'Tuberose Petals' diffuser; 'Smoked Leather' diffuser and candle; 'Oudh Geranium', 'Green Lavender' and 'Tuberose Petals' diffusers; and 'Fig Tree' candle. BELOW: A short film about the brand inspired by monochrome, smoke and ink, capturing the darkly mysterious design identity

Candles, £30 each for 300g; reed diffusers, £35 each for 200ml

Maison Francis Kurkdjian – 'Les Maisons de la Maison'

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Five scented candles by Paris fragrance house Maison Francis Kurkdjian inspired by homes sweet homes...

BY AMY BRADFORD

We’ve covered Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s perfumes ('Pluriel', 'À La Rose', 'Lumière Noire') several times in the past, but the Parisian nose’s new collection of scented candles has us more enraptured than ever. Entitled ‘Les Maisons de la Maison’, the range includes five fragrances, each inspired by homes that are dear to Kurkdjian.

TOP: Maison Francis Kurkdjian's five-strong new 'Les Maisons de la Maison' scented candle range. ABOVE: Candles include red-lined 'Rue des Groselliers', pink-hued 'Anouche', black-edged 'Au 17', green-lined 'La Trouverie' and yellow-rimmed 'Les Tamaris'. €70 each for 9.8 oz

'Rue des Groselliers’, for instance, represents his childhood home outside Paris with berry notes inspired by the family garden; ‘Anouche’ recaptures the smell of rose-petal jam cooking in his grandmother’s apartment; and ‘Au 17’ symbolises his current Paris home with the aromas of log fires and incense. 'La Trouverie' channels a French farmstead; 'Les Tamaris' his French West coast beach house. Each candle comes in a precious Limoges porcelain holder lined with rich colour, while boxes feature romantic illustrations by Paris artist Antonin Anzil.
franciskurkdjian.com

Anya Smells

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British accessories designer Anya Hindmarch has branched out into home fragrance. Just say 'Yes!'

BY AMY BRADFORD

Fashionistas revere accessories designer Anya Hindmarch as the purveyor of a very British type of luxury – impeccably crafted leathers in sophisticated colours, but with an injection of humour thanks to the Pop Art-style stickers she sells to customise her pieces. Now Hindmarch has branched out into home fragrance, the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream.

Cheekily titled 'Anya Smells', the collection of six scented candles was inspired by scents that evoke happy memories for Hindmarch, from sun lotion to baby powder, coffee, toothpaste, lip balm and washing powder. Launched at Hindmarch’s flagship boutiques in London, New York, LA and Tokyo, and available online, each one comes in sleek black-and-white packaging with fun, cartoonish graphics and, of course, humorous stickers from the Anya Hindmarch Sticker Shop. Hand-poured in England using the finest raw materials, the candles are intended to 'recreate the everyday in an extraordinary way'.

TOP: 'Anya Smells', the debut range of scented candles by UK handbag queen Anya Hindmarch. ABOVE: 'Sun Lotion' candle adorned with a 'Yes!' sticker; 'Coffee' with beady eyes; 'Lip Balm' with cute cherries; 'Washing Power' with rainbow motif; 'Toothpaste' with 'Phwoar!!!' sticker graphic; 'Baby Powder' with 'I Love It! What Is it?' sticker. Leather-embossed stickers adhere permanently so can't be removed.

Hindmarch teamed up with British perfumer Lyn Harris (founder of Perfumer H and Miller Harris) and United Perfumes (developer of Cire Trudon and Fornasetti Profumi, among other brands) to launch the six candles in two sizes.

Fresh floral 'Sun Lotion' is inspired by family holidays and features an accord of Italian bergamot and Tunisian orange flower, while ‘Baby Powder’ is a soft oriental with rose petal, benjoin and tonka bean. ‘Coffee’ evokes the dark, woody scent of freshly brewed coffee with café absolute, galbanum, cardamom and amber. The latest additions to the range are ozonic floral 'Washing Powder', featuring notes of watermelon rind, cucumber and hyacinth, herbal 'Toothpaste', including spearmint, grapefruit rind, candy floss and English rhubarb, and fruity 'Lip Balm', smelling of dark cherry, Egyptian jasmine and French vanilla.

Graphic packaging is by London's Studio Frith, with smiling and shocked face motifs on the candle boxes designed to have an after-life on your bookshelf. In-store installations and a promotional film by UK creative agency Anyways and Pavilion Works see the candles riding on a miniature train, with tracks running through a giant nose. Evocative, abstract ideas appear in the listings of Hindmarch's fragrance contents, from regrettable tan lines to holiday romance tears, striped pyjamas, missing socks, sleepless nights and Boy Band posters. Home fragrance married with witty nostalgia? Count us in...
anyahindmarch.com

'Anya Smells' scented candles, £50 for 628gm; £150 for 1800gm

Abel – 'Vita Odor'

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Design the world's best natural perfume? Amsterdam-born scent house Abel was ready, willing and able

BY AMY BRADFORD

Is it possible to create a completely natural perfume that’s as sophisticated as conventional scents made using synthetic ingredients? That was the question New Zealand former winemaker Frances Shoemack (top right) asked herself when she decided to devise Abel’s ‘Vita Odor’ (Living Fragrance) collection.

After seeing a film of Isaac Sinclair (below right) – the only master perfumer ever to hail from Australasia – talking about the similarities between wine-making and perfumery, she enlisted the Auckland-born, Sao Paulo-based talent as her creative partner. Together, the pair have crafted five extraordinary scents that take the concept of natural fragrance beyond the realms of hippiedom and elevate it to the status of haute parfumerie (the understated bottle design amplifies the effect).

BELOW: Abel's collection of five 'Vita Odor' eau de parfums combine 21st-century technology with fine natural ingredients. From left, 'Grey Labdanum', 'Cobalt Amber', 'Golden Neroli', 'White Vetiver' and 'Red Santal', from £45 each for 15ml; £98 for 50ml

All have short formulas that showcase the fine quality of the ingredients used: 'Cobalt Amber' is a delicious gourmand fragrance with cardamom, cacao and tonka bean, while 'Red Santal' captures the spiciness of clove and ginger and the milky freshness of sandalwood. Our favourite, though, is 'Golden Neroli' (left), a luscious honeyed floral with a top note of matcha tea. The genius of the perfumer lies in using isolates – fragrance notes extracted from natural ingredients using fractional distillation – that stand in for synthetic aromas. For example, an isolate from the ambrette seed smells like deer musk, now banned in its natural form and toxic in synthetic imitations. This new, natural musk note enables the perfumes to last all day on the skin. Clever, non?

Minimal packaging design (above) for the unisex 'Vita Odor' collection is equally chic, created in collaboration with Amsterdam's Atelier Joachim Baan, with subtle glimpses of colour on white boxes tying in with each scent. The sleek, modern bottles pay homage to Abel's commitment to natural materials, and are an exercise in low-key luxury.
abelodor.com


Abel's 'Vita Odor' range is available in the UK from roullierwhite.com