St Giles

We chat to scentaholic Michael Donovan, champion of cult fragrance labels, about his own London perfume brand St Giles...

BY AMY BRADFORD

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Passions run high in the perfume world: spend half an hour talking to a serious scentaholic and you’re likely to encounter a level of knowledge and enthusiasm that might be considered geekish if it weren’t so chic. One such person is Michael Donovan (right), who, as founder of perfumery Roullier White and PR firm Profile, has championed an array of cult scent brands including Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, D.S. & Durga and Ideo Parfumeurs (all of which you have read about in DesignFizz's Looking Glass beauty section over the years). Now, Donovan has poured 20 years of love and expertise into his own perfume collection, St Giles (named after the London parish of St Giles where he was born), launched in December 2017.

Created with French master nose Bertrand Duchaufour, it consists of five scents, each designed to answer this thorny question: how does a fragrance make you feel? ‘Having listened to the difficulties that journalists face when writing about fragrance – and owning a perfumery myself – I realised that this important question is almost never addressed,’ Donovan explains. ‘It’s what we all really want to know. Perfume is not a shopping list of ingredients nor an ephemeral title hinting at desirability. We are all multi-faceted personalities and need an olfactory wardrobe that is multi-functional and fulfils the needs of our daily lives – a scent to make us feel empowered and successful, inspired, glamorous or stylish.’

Donovan’s elegance and wit come through in all five scents, which also exude originality – when you’ve smelled as many perfumes as he and Duchaufour have, you know how to bring something new to the party. ‘The Actress’, for instance, is an alluring narcotic floral based on oriental lily. Gorgeously creamy from the outset, it gradually reveals layers of sensual warmth in the form of jasmine, honeysuckle, sandalwood and musk. What makes it unique, though, is the addition of pear and vanilla-custard notes, which bring a truly addictive sweetness. If the Dance of the Seven Veils could be incarnated as a scent, this would be it.

At the other end of the scale is ‘The Writer’, a woody-leather accord with a cool, dark intensity. A tribute to great prose, it includes notes such as rosemary, rhubarb and clary sage that are reputed to stimulate the intellect (tests have shown that exposure to rosemary essential oil improves performance in memory tests by several percentage points). ‘It’s not aromatherapy, but I like the idea of being cleverer when I wear it,’ says Donovan.

The remaining scents take their place in your scent arsenal thus: ‘The Mechanic’ is, as Donovan says, the magnetic ‘sex scent’, a feverishly erotic blend of geranium, patchouli, leather and musk, with allusions to hot rubber and engine fuel. ‘The Tycoon’ is the ‘power scent’: a fizzy green chypre with dynamic citrus notes and a steely heart of black pepper, woody cypriol, tea and labdanum. Last but not least, ‘The Stylist’ is all about feeling well put-together, with a dash of eccentricity. The opening of sparkling aldehydes and bitter-orange bigarade is as clean and crisp as a tailored white shirt, but notes of mango, rum and creamy vanilla inject real flamboyance.

Donovan designed the Twenties-influenced grey glass flacons himself, as well as the black crystal stopper, which he had sandblasted for extra tactility ‘and to stop it from slipping out of your hands’ – too many expensive scents are spoiled by cheap bottle caps, he says. All in all, this is a very impressive debut – we counsel you to spritz it and see.
stgilesfinefragrance.com

'St Giles' eau de parfum, £130 each for 100ml; also available at Selfridges selfridges.com

Behind the scenes at Diptyque

We go behind the scenes at Diptyque, famous for its elegant scented candles, as the French label celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first fragrance

BY AMY BRADFORD

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In 2018, Diptyque celebrates the 50th anniversary of its debut fragrance, the ground-breaking 'L'Eau', launched in 1968. The first unisex scent, inspired by its heady revolutionary era, it drew on a Renaissance recipe of spices, clove and cinnamon. To mark the occasion, the French luxury label has launched two new perfumes: 'Fleur de Peau' (a seductive floral featuring iris, musk and ambrette seeds) and 'Tempo' (a woody mix of patchouli and violet leaf), nods both to the Sixties and that original feisty fragrance. What better time to go behind the scenes at this much-loved perfume and home fragrance brand, respected as much for its iconic designs as its artfully crafted scents?

Diptyque’s jumbo-sized scented candles, packaged in ceramic holders, are probably the most covetable of all its many products. An investment buy at €230 (or £200 in the UK), they weigh a hefty 1.5kg and burn for up to 150 hours. Recently, Diptyque has updated the colours of these candles to make them even more beautiful, with ‘Tubéreuse’ available in a glossy plum-coloured vessel and ‘Figuier’ in a vivid green. There’s also a new large version of the brand’s best-selling ‘34’ fragrance in matt and glossy white.

TOP: Diptyque's two new scents for 2018, 'Fleur de Peau' and 'Tempo', channelling the swinging Sixties; £115 for 75ml. ABOVE RIGHT: This year is the 50th anniversary of the brand's first fragrance, the genderless 'L'Eau', adorned with a signature illustrated label.

As with everything at Diptyque, the story behind the product is as interesting as the end result. We were lucky enough to travel to the South of France to see the ceramic candle vessels being made, at the factory of Virebent, a pottery that has been making porcelain and stoneware since 1924. Set in the picturesque Lot valley, on the outskirts of the historic town of Puy-l’Evêque, Virebent started off making industrial ceramics, but branched out into decorative pottery in the 1960s (it now makes porcelain lighting and tableware for cult French brand Tsé & Tsé Associées, among others; if you’re in Puy-l’Evêque, be sure to visit its excellent factory shop).

ABOVE: Diptyque recently updated the colours of its large scented candles, adding plum-hued 'Tubéreuse' and white '34 Boulevard Saint Germain' to the range. BELOW: Outsize scented candle 'Figuier' now comes in gorgeous green, or opt for investment buy 'Baies' in black. All are suitable for indoors or outside.

At the Virebent workshop, a small band of dedicated artisans lovingly craft the candle vessels by hand, pouring liquid stoneware into moulds and then leaving them to air dry once they have set (this process takes at least two days, even in warm, dry weather). After that, the vessels are spray-enamelled and taken off to the kiln to bake – any that don’t emerge with a perfectly rich, even depth of colour in their glaze are ground down and recycled as sand (Diptyque inspectors approve or reject every single one). As for the scented wax? That is poured at another factory altogether, which means each giant candle has been on its own long journey before it makes its way to the shop floor and, in turn, to you. If you buy one of these candles, you’re investing in not just one kind of French craftsmanship, but several. Why not splash out? Perhaps for your own special anniversary...
diptyqueparis.fr  diptyqueparis.co.uk  virebent.com  tse-tse.com

BELOW: A video celebrating the 50th anniversary of the brand's first perfume. We also liked these Diptyque Facebook videos sharing the artwork behind 2018 scents 'Fleur de Peau' (illustrated by Dimitri Rybaltchenko) and 'Tempo(illustrated by Safia Ouares); click fragrance names to see the films

From East to West with Stellar Works

Stellar Works' desire to pull together global talents from four continents has resulted in a hybrid aesthetic of modern East/West design

BY DEE IVA

We never really got into fusion food, that fad for mixing eastern and western cuisines to produce something that didn’t do either any justice. It's an even harder trick to pull off with furniture so we’re very impressed with Shanghai-based Stellar Works and its approach to multicultural design.

Founded by Yuichiro Hori and launched internationally in 2011, Stellar Works' modus operandi is to harness the simplicity of Japanese and Scandinavian design and layer European luxury and playfulness with Chinese ornamentation to create a new global design aesthetic which references the past but is also entirely modern. To bring this vision to life, a clutch of international designers are on board to produce distinctive collections of furniture, lighting and accessories.

ABOVE: 'QT Chair' by Nic Graham, from £960. Powder-coated steel frame with wooden armrests. Available in diverse furnishing fabrics
ABOVE RIGHT: Founder Yuichiro Hori
BELOW: 'Cabinet of Curiosity' by Neri&Hu, £3,300. Solid walnut, brass-plated stainless steel, mesh panels and tempered glass. Set on a wheeled metal trolley, it's one of Stellar Works' most intriguing pieces, inspired by ceramic factory carts

Award-winning Shanghai design duo Neri&Hu mixes brass, leather and rich woods in their contemporary oriental collections for Stellar Works. The quietly industrial 'Utility' range, 'Chambre' bed and 'Cabinet of Curiosity' exude 21st-century Shanghai glamour. Creative directors for Stellar Works, they also present the company's visual aesthetic around the world.

ABOVE: The 'Chambre Bed', £1,485; 'Utility Sofa Three Sides', £2,830 and 'Utility Armchair U', from £575; 'Dowry Cabinet 1', £2,195. All by Neri&Hu
BELOW LEFT: 'James Bar Cart', £2550, by Yabu Pushelberg


Other Fizz faves include Space Copenhagen's slender 'Rén' tables and chairs that fuse Danish Modernism with the craft techniques of China and Japan to create an understated, timeless feel. We also like the 'QT'/'Chillax' collections by Australian designer Nic Graham, whose witty take on mid-century modern style references Scandinavian pragmatism with a dose of laid-back Aussie spirit (Nic's studio g+a has created quirky interiors for Australia's QT Hotels). New York design firm Yabu Pushelberg's airy 'James Bar Cart' is on our lust list too. Part of the 'James' range of sculptural furniture inspired by the world of performance cars, its solid steel frame is offset by oversized wheels, sleek walnut veneers and a tactile wood handle.

BELOW: 'Rén Coffee Table', £370; 'Rén Lounge Chair Two Seater', from £1,150, by Space Copenhagen

ABOVE: The slender lines of the 'Rén Lounge Chair Two Seater', from £1,150; 'Rén Lounge Chair', from £610; 'Rén Dining Table', from £1,220. Plush leather seating and dark woods feature in this timeless collection by Space Copenhagen
BELOW: Nic Graham's playful 'QT Chair with Cupholder', from £1,000; 'Chillax Sofa', from £2,700, and 'Chillax Highback Chair', from £1,150

Incorporated in Hong Kong with factories in Shanghai and showrooms dotted around the globe, Stellar Works' mix-and-match method is proving to be a winner. Hiro's inclusive design policy also sends out the message that different cultures really can work together to usher in a bright new world. A United Nations of design? Now there's a thought...
stellarworks.com

Are you a Design Tourist?

Design tourism is on the rise, with hordes of us hopping from one global fair to the next. So is the big draw the products, the pictures, the people or the parties?

BY DEE IVA

'We are all design tourists,' declared Tom Dixon at this year's Milan Furniture Fair. It was a term we'd never heard before but it has stuck in our minds ever since.

UK furniture and lighting whizz Dixon was referring to the hordes of design aficionados who flock to the major design fairs each year to see the new collections and product launches from around the world.

Most of these design devotees are buyers for retail brands, journalists, PRs, agents and designers themselves. Instead of returning home with pictures of the local sights and landmarks, hours are spent uploading photos of furniture, lighting, accessories, architecture and fresh talent to Instagram and Pinterest in a 21st-century version of sharing holiday snaps. So forget La Scala, ciao Salone del Mobile. Never mind the Mona Lisa, check out Maison et Objet. And who needs the Tower of London, when you've got the London Design Festival?

This endless round of snap-happy globetrotting also applies to the fashion industry. The second a new look sashays down the catwalk, whether in New York, Paris or Milan, it's snapped and shared on social media for all to see. It's increasingly true of the international art fair scene too, and food blogger-flocked restaurant and bar launches worldwide.

ABOVE FROM LEFT: The Cos X Hay floor in Cos Kensington, London; Tom Dixon's own limited-edition crash helmet; Sebastian Herkner's 'Salute' side tables for La Chance at designjunction 2015; Sculptural architecture in Dungeness, Kent; Jaime Hayon's witty ceramic birds for Bosa
ABOVE RIGHT: Tom Dixon announces 'We are all design tourists' in Milan

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Jaime Hayon's Instagrammable 'Monkey' side table for BD Barcelona Design at Salone del Mobile 2015; Milan revisits Memphis at the Milan Furniture Fair 2015; Artist Jim Lambie's graphic striped staircase at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015
BELOW: Rebekah Hutchinson's abstract wallpapers, New Designers 2015

It's a double-edged sword for designers, of course. On the one hand they want the world to know about their new collections, but many also fiercely try to guard their work from prying eyes, fearing copycat copyright rip-offs (we've all seen those paranoid 'no photos' signs on graduate design fair stands). But in our increasingly teched-up world it's almost a given that once something's out there it's being shared immediately. Our tip? Embrace social media, create your own hashtags, and trust that if your product is associated with you first, you should get the credit and ultimately reap the benefits.

Back in the day we would go on holiday, wait for our prints to be processed and then bore the pants off family and friends with out-of-focus, badly lit holiday pics. Now we're capturing our inspirations and sharing our snaps with the world, only this time around we're promoting what we've seen and disseminating that information in an instant, like passionate PRs.

ABOVE FROM LEFT: A dreamy installation of folded pink paper cranes at SeehoSu's Surry Hills showroom created with Sumu Design for August's Sydney Indesign 2015. 'Adnet' mirror by Jacques Adnet for Gubi; We fell for these bent-wire chairs by Gaurav Nanda for LA company Bend Goods at Darlinghurst showroom Own World during Sydney Indesign 

'I think everyone who takes in any form of culture when they travel could be deemed a design tourist', says Max Fraser, former Deputy Director of the London Design Festival and publisher of the London Design Guide. 'After all, it is the manmade anomalies of different places that draw our fascination, be they spectacular examples of ancient settlements, modern developments or small everyday details that are different from our own. At the core of our interest in these things is design and, indeed, we are fixated by the seemingly endless beauty of nature's design too.'

'But then there is the 'hardcore design tourist', a group within which I am included. We travel specifically to hunt out design in all its guises, coinciding our trips with major exhibitions or design festivals. We enjoy the inevitable socialising that comes with it. With travel so cheap and easy, more and more design tourists are traversing the world and cultural expectations in different cities are mounting. That said, design is my profession and when I'm on holiday I like to escape the manmade and sidestep cultural excursions altogether!'

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ABOVE: Design tourists caught in the act at SelgasCano's 2015 Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London

But is it only people working in design and its associated industries who become design tourists (or should we say 'design hunters')? We don't think so. We're forever seeing excited design junkies snapping away at fairs, showrooms and events, obsessing about this new cushion or that new light in much the same way as One Direction's fans go gaga for their latest single. Some are selfie-seeking students, others silver-haired culture lovers, and almost all are party people, enjoying the accompanying launch cocktails or DJ tunes. This may or may not lead to an actual future purchase but what it does do is spread the word, bring the customer and the designer closer together, and create a buzz around the brand.

BELOW FROM LEFT: Patternity's stunning black and white installation at Somerset House during London Design Festival 2015; Lee Broom's pop-up The Department Store was the talk of the town at Milan this year

ABOVE: We could rabbit on for ages about the minimal 'Wireflow' pendants by Arik Levy for Vibia – a design highlight at Waterloo's PYD Building during August's Sydney Indesign fair, as seen at Koda Lighting's showroom

It helps that global design fairs are becoming more fun and interactive, taking over alternative spaces around town and opening their doors to the public. At 2015's Milan Furniture Fair in April there were outsize swing sets by Philippe Malouin for Caesarstone in a grand palazzo, Lee Broom invited us in to his pop-up department store and Tom Dixon did an after-party gig with his band Rough. Recently, at September's London Design Festival, Somerset House became an immersive installation where visitors were encouraged to interact with the designs on show.

Not everyone is happy with the design tourist label though. London online retailer Thorsten Van Elten is distinctly uncomfortable with it. 'Design tourist feels a bit like a dirty word to me, like someone in desperate need to be hanging out in the latest bar, café, restaurant or hotel. It's like the gentrification of tourism. To me it's one of those non-phrases like 'concept store' or 'boutique hotel''.

American writer Henry Miller once said, 'One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.' Here at DesignFizz, we're very happy to be design tourists. The shock of the new will continue to excite us and we'll keep on sharing our #FizzPicks with you on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (currently the medium for reporting on global design). That is, unless we can share a glass of fizz with you in person at the next fair in Cologne, Stockholm or Paris. See you there!

All photos by Dee Iva and Sophie Davies for DesignFizz; for more, check out our feed on Instagram

New Faces for 2015

In an uncertain world one thing is for sure, UK design talent continues to deliver fresh ideas and energy to a diverse and rapidly expanding market. We take a look at some of the brightest new designers in town...

BY DEE IVA

Every year a new army of design talent is unleashed on the world. The colleges and universities exhibit their graduates and then turn to the next batch of hopefuls. Now 2015's shows have been and gone and the dust has settled, we profile those designers whose work made us stop, look and listen.

Part 1 features eye-catching wallpaper, lighting and accessories and thought-provoking furniture. The future is already here...


HEBA ALHAWSAUI Birmingham City University

Two worlds collide in the work of Saudi Arabian wallpaper and textile designer Heba Alhawsaui. For her final year project 'Planning Geometrics', Alhawsaui harnessed the beauty of Islamic geometrics and infused them with a massive dose of modern European flair. 

Her abstract compositions are held together by a strict colour palette of black, white and yellow. Some designs are simple monochromatic fields displaying sketchy shapes and almost rubbed-out lines while others are very sharply drawn with kaleidoscopic precision. We love the way she adds 3D elements to some of her wallpapers; one multi-layered design, with barely glimpsed faces and a hazy mix of textures and patterns, drops enigmatic hints of tales yet to be told. 

'I enjoy creating designs that tell a story. I chose black because it emphasises the mystery of the Islamic geometric system and added accents of yellow for contrast and to give the collection a very contemporary feel.' 

Alhawsaui is hoping to work in Saudi Arabia for a couple of years before returning to the UK to do her Masters degree. With work like this, we don't think she'll need to...
Course: BA (Hons) Textile Design
heba.alhawsaui@gmail.com


GERALDINE BIARD Central Saint Martins

'Jardin d'Hiver', which means Winter Garden, is a range of furniture by French designer Geraldine Biard that tackles a serious and growing problem in society today. Her collection consists of a bedside cabinet, sideboard and console table that aim to alleviate the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease through the use of light and aromatherapy.

Each unit is made from walnut with copper handles and feet but the main attraction is the softly moulded Corian surface designed to resemble a wintery mountain range. This snowy landscape contains a glow-in-the-dark illustration of a peaceful rural scene. A small diffuser emits bursts of soothing scents from the sculpted peaks on the top.

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Biard hopes that this combination of aromatherapy and light therapy inside simple and familiar pieces of furniture will help to ease anxiety and offer comfort to people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's. 'I worked with people with dementia in a psycho-geriatric hospital in Switzerland,' says Biard, 'and I noticed that in addition to anxiety caused by the disease, the care environment itself can be another source of stress for the residents. It appeared to me that with no medical cure, the best way to address the problem was to provide a better way of life through design. With this collection I aim to establish new standards for design excellence in dementia care and to invite designers across the globe to reflect on this growing problem.' 

Stylistically 'Jardin d'Hiver' ticks a lot of boxes but what we love about it most is that it shows design has a heart. Geraldine, we hear you, and this ingenious collection definitely deserves to go into production.
Course: MA Ceramics, Furniture & Jewellery
geraldinebiard.com


BEN SMITH Nottingham Trent University

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Ben Smith's 'Apex' desk lamp is a simple, effective and witty study in folded Corian. Its low centre of gravity makes it seem slightly off balance, the pale folded sheets echo the art of origami while the retro red flex gives a nod to lighting fixtures from a bygone age.

At first glance it appears to be one piece of Corian folded three times but closer inspection reveals it to be two separate pieces jointed together allowing its height to be adjusted easily. A single line of embedded LEDs provides clean, even lighting.

Smith's streamlined, geometric style has surfaced before in designs for sofas, clothes rails (for Paul Smith) and staircases. He's a fan of A-list starchitect Zaha Hadid, whose use of abstract geometry often serves as a starting point for Smith's own creations.

Smith is hoping to put 'Apex' into production in time for Christmas. We're already looking forward to eagerly unwrapping one on Christmas morning, aren't you?
Course: BA (Hons) Furniture & Product Design
www.bensmithdesign.net


ELIZABETH HANDFORTH Sheffield Hallam University

South America and Sheffield might be poles apart but both cultures have played a major part in Elizabeth Handforth’s life. Originally from Whitstable, at the age of five she visited her mother’s family in Argentina and Paraguay where she encountered colour and strong geometric patterns. In her late teens, she moved to Sheffield where she came under the spell of the city's modernist architecture. Handforth's subsequent fascination with all things metallic has been informed by these early influences which can be seen in the way she presses and moulds precious metals to create unusual yet beautiful pieces that retain the marks of the manufacturing process.

'Metal has 'out of space' characteristics,' says Handforth. 'Objects that I cherish include a stainless steel kidney dish, which has such a sweeping, modern, utilitarian beauty, and my grandfather's red copper ashtray, which is rough and meteoric. Metal makes me ask questions about what man- made is, and leads to other questions such as 'Is that possible?', 'Is it natural?', 'Is it supernatural?''

Where other designers might take time to smooth out any trace of the production process, Handforth often embraces the imperfections and makes a virtue of them. She loves the way the metals flow into and over casts, playing with form and texture, allowing the tools to leave their imprint on the finished pieces. Her 'Britannia' dish (first image above) is the result of pressing the silver into two mis-aligned squares at an angle. Simple and effective, no further embellishment is needed.

Handforth will be setting up shop at Yorkshire Artspace in September, where she'll have her own studio to carry on shaping and mis-shaping metal to her heart's content. Between Friday 20 and Sunday 22 November, Artspace's Open Studios welcomes the public so stop in and say hello. You're bound to come out with a unique hand-finished design from Sheffield's newest star.
Course: BA (Hons) Jewellery & Metalwork
elizabethhandforth.wix.com


SHERIF MAKTABI Central Saint Martins

The proliferation of smartphones and tablets with their ever increasing appetites for energy has spawned a secondary industry in charging devices. Portable chargers have been with us for a while now but there’s a growing trend towards ‘invisible’ chargers that masquerade as furniture or accessories in the home. For his final year project on the BA Product Design course at Central Saint Martins, Sherif Maktabi tackled the problem of unsightly cables and sockets by designing a sleek tray that charges your smartphone or tablet while also providing storage for other small everyday items.

The tray was Maktabi’s response to a brief set by Japanese lifestyle retailer MUJI which asked students to design products for urban living where space is at a premium. The tray is designed to integrate with MUJI’s existing storage containers and to be discreet and unobtrusive. Made of ABS plastic, it cleverly conceals the USB charger and can double as a small side table when used with a chrome-plated stand. 

Maktabi is currently working as a designer and strategist for Kano.me which develops kits so you can make your own computer. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled to see what this tech-savvy designer does next as he’s obviously sooo on trend right now.
Course: BA (Hons) Product Design
sherifmaktabi.com

See our previous post on IKEA's recent range of wireless charging furniture here.