From Iceland — Art you can smell!

Art you can smell!

Published March 15, 2011

Art you can smell!

For Andrea Maack, who according to our panel of experts made ‘the Product of 2010’, being an artist doesn’t necessarily entail working solely within the confines of sight or sound. A visual artist mostly known for her delicate, swirly pencil drawings, Andrea ventured into new territory with her perfume series: ‘Smart’, ‘Craft’, and ‘Sharp’. With the help of grants from the Icelandic government, perfumer Renaud Coutaudier, and a slew of PR people, Andrea transformed what was once a playful aspiration to see if scent could carry her art into a high-end product that is now sold in seven countries.
From DIY to couture
Andrea says she wanted to create wearable sculptures and perfumes that walk the line between charming the eyes and noses of consumers and contributing to an ongoing conversation within the art world. She doesn’t hesitate to say she wanted to create a product out of her art, “an out of this world perfume that you wear and see your future.”
Andrea embarked on her aromatic adventure by buying a DIY perfume kit off the internet and trying her hand at some couture chemistry. Though she didn’t burn off her eyebrows or instigate any allergic reactions in the process, she thought it better to enlist a professional if she wanted to get anywhere close to the high-end feel she was hoping for. So she got in contact with Coutaudier, a professional perfumer that works for ARF arômes et Perfumes.
For over a year during 2008 and 2009, Andrea and Coutaudier corresponded via snail mail. Andrea sent Coutaudier her drawings and he translated them into three perfumes—each bearing different personalities, like children feuding for their mother’s attention. ‘Smart’ is the sweet, modest older sister, least damaged by family woes, and born when her parents were still idealist and young. ‘Craft’ is undoubtedly the middle child, the one with a zesty temper, who listens to metal alone in his room. He takes the most effort to get to know, but it’s a friendship that pays off in the end. ‘Sharp’ is the free-spirited youngest sister that wears soft, flowing skirts and orange blossoms in her hair.
Family time
In an attempt to bring the family together, Andrea exhibited all three together at Reykjavík’s Spark Design Space in 2010. The perfumes, she said, ended up complimenting each other well. At this point, they are only available individually, but in the future she plans to release them together as a collection. For the most part, customers buy just one of her perfumes at a time: North Americans generally prefer ‘Smart’, ‘Sharp’ appeals to Britons, and Eastern Europeans often chose ‘Craft’. Icelanders, on the other hand, are impartial.
As for Andrea, she loves all three perfumes equally, like any good mother would. Each perfume has “such a strong connection to the shows they were created for,” that when she wears them she’s overwhelmed with nostalgia, she said. “For the first year I only wore ‘Craft’. But now I’m moving back to ‘Smart’ for a day scent. ‘Sharp’ is a great one to have for special occasions or important meetings. It gives me a lot of confidence.”
In the next few months, the perfumes will be sold in an additional six countries and, said Andrea, two more little ones are on the way too.

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