The Warsaw Voice » Society » Monthly - April 30, 2018
Lifestyle
You have to be logged in to use the ReadSpeaker utility and listen to a text. It's free-of-charge. Just log in to the site or register if you are not registered user yet.
Olfactory Ode to Gemstones
   
Olivier Durbano, French jewellery and perfume designer came to Warsaw to conduct an olfactory workshop at the Quality Missala Perfumery. He shared the philosophy and inspiration behind his creations with The Warsaw Voice.

You design unique pieces of jewellery from stones and translate your lapidary creations into perfumes. What’s the linkage between these two arts?
Jewellery and perfumery are for me the same universe, only with different artistic media, different ways to translate inspirations into a creative process. You can transcribe the same intention into designing a necklace as in creating a perfume.

So, I don’t consider myself a perfumer or a jeweller. I like to think of myself as an artist and I value the idea of artistic freedom. I actually studied architecture but not in order to become an architect but to learn some processes of creation, and then, to be free to choose one or more ways to create something. I like to feel free in what I am doing.

How did you become attracted to stones and get an idea to reinterpret this fascination into scents?
My parents told me that when I was four years old I cried in a flea market because I saw a grey stone I badly wanted to have. And since then I have been absolutely crazy about stones, had feelings for them without understanding why.

I forgot about stones when I was 14 but they came back into my life a few years later. During my first trip to Syria I bought some stones in a local market and I later used them to make my first necklace.

For me, each stone is a universe, energy, a little story full of symbolism, myths and legends. It’s like a movie in my mind that evokes images, sensations, emotions and smells, which I can translate into my perfumes.

So stones have some special smell for you…
It’s not all about the smell of stones. They are at the base of my inspiration. I’m fascinated with their naturalness, uniqueness, their truth. Stones come from the earth and have accompanied the human being from the beginning of time. I believe they are a kind of spiritual medium for intentions, memories and emotions. This is exactly what I want to give to my creations: emotions.

And how does the creative process look like?
It is essential for me to share my experience of stones, and transcribe their energy, their meaning into my perfumes. I take my time with a stone. I read a lot about it, get to know it and its symbolism. Step by step, I write a list of ingredients that come from ideas and images. When my list is complete I ask a chemist to help me with the technical aspect of the creation, balancing the ingredients, writing a formula and developing a composition in a laboratory.

Most of your perfumes are based on incense. Does this ingredient have any particular significance to you?
Incense has been my other fascination since my early years. I still remember my strong emotions associated with the smell of incense in the church to which I used to go as a child with my parents.

The symbolism I wanted to get across with the first perfume I created, Rock Crystal, was the connection between earth and heaven. At that time, I chose the incense somehow subconsciously, to realize only later that, as being used to communicate with God, it has similar significance to rock crystal minerals. Thus, my first fragrance, which was about a journey to heaven, linked both of my passions – stones and incense.

I also use incense for its mineral aspect, as a perfect ingredient to translate the idea of a stone into perfume.

What symbolism is carried by your other fragrances? I noticed they are all numbered.
Yes, the numbers have symbolic meanings too. The second one is Amethyst, a powdery elixir with a sweet projection to symbolize inner peace. Number 3, Black Tourmaline, the earthbound scent built around the stone of protection, ‘talks” about the link between us and the earth. The fourth creation, Jade, is an interpretation of a travel in the past and the antique China to signify eternal life. Number 5, Turquoise, celebrates the spirit of the sea and the sky. The sixth fragrance, Pink Quartz has got lots of rose as they both, the stone and the flower, symbolize love.

Citrine bears number seven, a figure with spiritual and ancient importance, which stands for the light of God. The eighth stone, Heliotrope, is linked to infinity. For number 9, which signifies the end of a cycle and the beginning of something else, I decided to go with a mystical stone Lapis Philosophorum. It renders the idea of an alchemist transforming metals to gold and offering the chance of immortality. The tenth creation, Prométhée, honors Prometheus bringing fire to man from God. Number 11, Chrysolithe, is a symbol of self-control, the harmony of the Divine. Lapis-Lazuli, number 12, is a stone of the holy and the spiritual. And my latest, the 13th creation, Labradorite or a Moon Stone, celebrates the light that God decided to put in the stone to be reflected on the human being.

You chose a very minimalistic design for your flacons…
I needed something simple and pure because I wanted to use the color of the stone, which is also its language and energy, in my perfumes. I also wanted to contain in each flacon beads of the stone by which the perfume was inspired. It was a very important, symbolic act for me to put the stone and perfume together

I chose to have an inscription, written in this kind of old calligraphy on the bottle, which reads „at the beginning”, because stones came at the beginning, and I was also at the beginning of doing something new when I started designing perfumes.