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

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

IKEA x Ilse Crawford: The New Natural

IKEA's debut collaboration with British designer Ilse Crawford represents a trend towards natural, tactile materials in our increasingly virtual world. Shop this amazing homewares collection from August

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

'The more virtual our lives become, the more we crave the physical,' says acclaimed London-based designer and interior decorator Ilse Crawford. It's the sentiment that inspired her gorgeous new 'Sinnerlig' collection of furniture, lighting and tabletop pieces for Swedish homewares giant IKEA, which features natural, raw materials such as cork, glass, ceramic, cotton, seagrass and bamboo that feel as good as they look. Encompassing more than 30 pieces for the home, aimed at 'adding value to the experience of everyday living', the collection celebrates the beauty and tactility of raw materials and natural fibres, and the imperfections that arise in their production – part of a growing trend away from glossy surfaces and slick, ornate designs. It's also beautifully understated, subtle and minimal, allowing clear glass, smooth ceramic and touchy-feely cork to do the talking. Think simple, useful forms for quieter, more low-key interiors.

A made-up word, 'Sinnerlig' combines the Swedish terms for sensuous and heartfelt. Standout pieces include tables, benches and stools topped with thin layers of cork, outsize glass vases and hand-blown bottles, dark ceramic jugs, plates and planters, bamboo-lattice pendant lights, seagrass baskets and floor mats. Among the material mixes, it's the use of cork that is most striking, chosen for its eco-friendly qualities (see our 2014 cork trend for more on this sustainable star). Cork is renewable, durable, an acoustic softener, waterproof and easy to clean, and you'll see it here in light and dark tones on table and seat tops, lamp bases and as jar stoppers. Crawford's practice Studioilse embarked on research missions to Portugal, Poland, China and Vietnam to source suitable natural materials which would respond well to industrial production; the resulting range should prove a hit with eco warriors, architects and style fans alike.

TOP ROW FROM LEFT: Bamboo, cork and glass offer natural tactility
ABOVE FROM LEFT: Furniture spans day-beds, tables and stools 

'Sinnerlig' divides loosely into three areas; lounging, dining and working. Each group has a key piece at its heart – day-bed (very mid-century Scandi!), dining table or trestle table. The idea is that you can use them flexibly to fit in with the way you live, with neutral colours that complement any home. 'The range is quite low-key but we deliberately designed it like that,' says Crawford. 'It's not trying to compete with those fantastic icons of design. It's a different thing. They are helpful background pieces not showstoppers.'

Launched during February's Stockholm Design Week at the city's seductive Ett Hem hotel, also designed by Crawford, the range is due in shops from August. For a quiet collection, we reckon it's going to make a lot of noise...
ikea.com

IKEA's 'Sinnerlig' collection will be in global stores from August 2015. Check back with us for product names and prices nearer the launch.

Ilse Crawford portrait by Stef Bakker  studiobakker.nl