The Art of Fragrance

Launching a contemporary fragrance? Better make sure it has a design angle. DesignFizz sniffs out the brands spearheading the trend for collaborations between artists, designers and perfumers


Newcomer Olfactive Studio was created by Céline Verleure, who has developed perfumes for big French brands such as Kenzo Parfums. It’s a marriage between photography and scent: each of the five fragrances started life as an art photo, which was then interpreted by a nose as a unisex perfume and scented candle; the inspirational image is featured on the packaging. We love ‘Lumière Blanche’, in which Massimo Vitali’s striking photo of the Italian coastline is reimagined by perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur as a warm, spicy scent that evokes ‘the crushing heat of the sun’.

ABOVE: Massimo Vitali's white-hot image that inspired ‘Lumière Blanche’ (above right)
BELOW: (top row from left) 'Autoportrait' by Luc Lapôtre, 'Flashback' by Laurent Segretier, 'Chambre Noire' by Clémence René-Bazin
All fragrances from €85 for 50ml
Available online

Swedish brand Agonist represents the fulfilment of a dream for its founders, designers Christine Gustafsson and Niclas Lydeen, to work artistically with scent and packaging. All of its nine fragrances have been created with traditional perfumers, and are offered in a choice of two bottles: a simple flacon whose label lists the scent’s ingredients as a graphic pattern, or an individually sculpted vessel crafted by historic Swedish glassworks Kosta Boda. The nature of each scent is reflected in the colours of the glass: ‘Dark Saphir’ is presented in an inky blue bottle, and ‘Arctic Jade’ comes in pale blue-green. Agonist's latest fragrance, 'Solaris', launched in March, is encased in a stack of vibrant red and clear glass baubles.

ABOVE: (from left) 'Dark Saphir' sculpture, £980 for 50ml; 'Arctic Jade' sculpture, £950 for 50 ml
Available from Avery Fine Perfumery

Icelandic-born artist Andrea Maack’s fragrances were originally created for her own art and fashion exhibitions, and feature her distinctive abstract brushstrokes on their packaging. She works with a team of young noses in Grasse, who interpret her artworks in scent. ‘Coal’, for instance, is based on a drawing Maack made with black coal, and contrasts ‘dark’ ingredients such as patchouli and leather with sharper, colder pink pepper. Her latest scent, ‘Coven’, was inspired by a body of work rooted in her fascination with the supernatural; intensely green and woody, it has the sinister charm of a gothic fairy tale.

£85 for 50ml
Available from Fenwick

Dublin-based label Roads is the brainchild of art aficionado Danielle Ryan, and is at once a publisher of art books, a film company and a perfumery. Its minimally packaged scent range is inspired by cultural influences, which Ryan shares with her team of perfumers using images, quotes and texts. ‘Visuals are the clearest way of communicating for me and I reference art to a large extent,’ she says. Highlights include the ‘colourful and huge’ citrus blend ‘Supernova’ and ‘Neon’, a ‘fluorescent and alive’ spicy scent. A candle collection will follow later this year.

RIGHT: 'Neon'
£98 for 50ml

BELOW: The full Roads range
Available from Selfridges