Studying the abstract
A scent journey with no end
When we started Skandinavisk we knew that its stories and its design tradition were rich and captivating, and we felt equipped and energised to reinterpret both.
But its scents?
We had no idea.
And not a lot of others seemed to either. In fact, one perfumer responded “isn’t it all just pine and snow?”.
Despite the knowledge void, we knew fragrance could transport people to different aspects of Scandinavia, so we chose to simply study it. We went out into the nature, we observed the every day, we tracked the seasons, we looked for the things that were different, that were special in their own local way.
What we learned was that fragrance in Scandinavia is no less rich and captivating than those more famous perfume industry themes like citrus, cedar, patchouli, vanilla that the world has been smelling for decades.
It’s just different up here.
There are no lemon groves in Scandinavia, no ancient olive or fig orchards on rocky, sun-baked slopes. We have fir, not cedar forests. Our fruits aren’t pineapple and grapefruit but the more mundane apple and pear. We thought Bergamot was a town in Italy. We don’t know how to pronounce ylang-ylang, let alone know where it grows.
So our fragrance accords need to reflect this reality. Our scent bases must be grounded in real experiences of Scandinavia, the dominant notes being true to the region. That’s why we spend so much time traveling the region, hiking the fjords, trekking the highlands, sailing the coastlines, disappearing into the forests. If you don’t experience it, you can’t recreate it.
If we do want to add a citrus note, it needs to be light, like a squeeze of lemon to spritz a finished dish, but its scent needs to be inspired by the softer lemon-nettle weed that is prevalent here than the more familiar yellow fruit of the supermarket.
It’s as simple, and difficult, as that.
The stories of Scandinavia, our colours and design motif can’t exist without the fragrances, and vice versa. Each relates to the other. It’s a multi-sensory combination that we’re constantly refining and have now fallen in love with.
Just don’t ask us for sandalwood and tonka bean.
Read more about our process of scent creation, and the two people who help make all the difference, by clicking below.
Images by Shaun Russell and Niki Brantmark.