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

Maison Numen

Artisanal South American design is now available at your fingertips with the launch of Maison Numen, a new online marketplace that celebrates the hand of the maker

BY DEE IVA

After all the recent furore surrounding Britain's vote to leave the EU we're sooo glad to receive design dispatches from the other side of the world.

Maison Numen is a new retail website founded by Venezuelans Jessica Macias (right) and Ana Caufman who are on a mission to bring handmade artisanal craft pieces from around the world to the online market place. Debut collection 'Latin Animae Volume 1' focuses on design from South America, with over 193 pieces by artisans from Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela, ranging from geometric rugs by Marisol Centeno to woven baskets and Ana Gomez's witty ceramic riffs on fast food containers. 

ABOVE: 'Talavera Combo' by Mexican artist Ana Gomez whose ceramic fast food containers are beautifully handprinted using the traditional Talavera technique
BELOW: The 'Enredo Largo Tablecloth' is handwoven on pedal looms by artisans from Chiapas in Mexico and inspired by the skirts they wear

ABOVE: The graphic 'Ares 5 Rug' by Marisol Centeno is inspired by alchemy and sacred geometry
BELOW: Geometry and traditional techniques are also present in the 'Wöwa' basket from Venezuela 

The people and stories behind these products are as important to Macias and Caufman as the products themselves. Fusing contemporary design and traditional crafts, Maison Numen's aim is to reinvigorate the fortunes of local craftspeople and to raise awareness of the skills involved in the production of each collection. Short stories and behind-the-scenes footage bring the tales of the makers to the fore and imbue each item with a sense of provenance. Judging by this first collection we're already looking forward to 'Volume 2'...
maisonnumen.com

The Return of Cork

'Tembo' stools by Note Design Studio for La Chance, price on application lachance.fr

Once a byword for suburban Seventies style, cork has returned to the design arena with a vengeance. Never mind the placemats...

BY AMY BRADFORD

Sustainable materials may be de rigueur, but unlike some of the more high-tech substances out there, cork has an age-old appeal to match its eco credentials. The use of it helps the planet – a cork tree that has had its bark harvested absorbs up to five times more CO2 than one left idle – and it’s endlessly versatile: softer and more forgiving than wood, impermeable yet breathable, lightweight, buoyant and insulating.

A series of cork architecture projects have put it in the spotlight. First there was Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s cork Serpentine Pavilion in 2012. The following year, French designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec unveiled their ‘Quiet Motion’ cork seating installation at the Milan Furniture Fair, designed for BMW’s electric car division BMWi. And at the London Design Festival last September, Amorim, the world’s largest producer of cork, reinvented the humble cork tile. Its flooring display at the Victoria and Albert Museum featured a trompe l’oeil geometric pattern.

'Nomu' teapots by Lee West for ENOstudio, £62.80   madeindesign.co.uk

'Nomu' teapots by Lee West for ENOstudio, £62.80 madeindesign.co.uk

Product designers have contrasted cork’s utilitarian beauty with glossy finishes such as glass, metal and ceramic. Many have also used it to create barware inspired by the most common use of the material, as a sealant for wine bottles. Aurélien Barbry’s ‘Wine & Bar’ series for Normann Copenhagen consists of corkscrews and bottle stoppers; Carlo Trevisani’s ‘Appo’ design for Seletti is a cork stopper with a platter on top that transforms an empty wine bottle into a table centrepiece. The dense but light structure of cork means it can be cut in endless different ways, so you can use it to make anything from a lampshade to a chair. Why not try it out for yourself?

Detail of the installation by Amorim at the Victoria and Albert Museum during 2013's London Design Festival    amorim.com

Detail of the installation by Amorim at the Victoria and Albert Museum during 2013's London Design Festival  amorim.com

The 2012 Serpentine Pavilion   by Ai Wei Wei   outside the Serpentine Gallery, London

The 2012 Serpentine Pavilion by Ai Wei Wei outside the Serpentine Gallery, London

Bottle opener and corkscrew by Aurélien Barbry for Normann Copenhagen, €20 each   normann-copenhagen.com

Bottle opener and corkscrew by Aurélien Barbry for Normann Copenhagen, €20 each normann-copenhagen.com

'Boco' vases by Pierre Dubois and Aimé Cécil for Roche Bobois, from £237   roche-bobois.com

'Boco' vases by Pierre Dubois and Aimé Cécil for Roche Bobois, from £237 roche-bobois.com

'Model B' stool from the Cork Family by Jasper Morrison for Vitra, £300   thelollipopshoppe.co.uk

'Model B' stool from the Cork Family by Jasper Morrison for Vitra, £300 thelollipopshoppe.co.uk