Piero Lissoni captures the essence of a bygone perfumery for a multi-sensory installation.
Scents often stir up memories. So what happens when a designer reimagines a forgotten perfume? Just such an experiment unfolded recently within the Garden of Wonders, which included an installation of pavilions that filled Milan’s Botanical Gardens of Brera. Staged by design think tank Be Open, the project challenged eight star design studios – including Nendo, Front and the Campana brothers – to revive eight bygone perfumeries through innovative rebranding.
With his tribute to Lundborg, a 19th‑century New York perfume maker, Italian designer Piero Lissoni went several steps further, conjuring the romance of the old artisanal fragrance workshop. Visitors who queued up to peer inside his glass-enclosed vignette were greeted by more glass: a delicate alchemical laboratory with an array of fragile flasks, tubes and jars filled with black orchids and hanging plants.
Distillation is only part of the equation. Most iconic perfumes are synonymous with the bottles they come in, so Lissoni lined his mini-workshop in apothecary jars with cords around their necks and sealed with wax. Vintage-inspired labels hinted at the delicate fragrances of violet and amber contained within. It was no empty gesture; Gérald Ghislain, founder of the Paris olfactive library Histoire de Parfums, blended a unique fragrance to bridge the memory of the old perfume and the new packaging. While the Garden of Wonders had a short run, from Milan Design Week through May for Expo 2015, it left a lingering impression.