BERLIN — Master perfumer Christophe Laudamiel has created hits in a bottle for Estée Lauder and Burberry, conjured up ambient atmospheres for Belstaff and Ferrari, and directed a scent opera at the Guggenheim Museum. His next incarnation? As a regular on Berlin’s gallery scene.
“Art is about provocation,” he said. “Provocation makes people think about a difficult problem. The fragrance industry never does that — it’s not their thing.”
Laudamiel, who also shows at New York’s Dillon Gallery, has forged an ongoing partnership with Mianki Gallery owner Andreas Herrmann. Herrmann will exhibit Laudamiel’s scent sculptures in conjunction with other artists in his roster, be they painters, photographers or sculptors. Laudamiel will also have a solo show at Mianki in 2015.
“We specialize in artists who work with special materials or in a special way with materials,” said Herrmann, “so it is perfect to work with Christophe here and open horizons for visitors.” It also didn’t hurt that Laudamiel and his partner have their home and perfume lab nearby in the neighborhood of Schöneberg.
The arrangement kicked off with Laudamiel’s contributions to the March-April exhibit “Emotions,” which paired scent works with digital color field images from Jakob Kupfer.
To display the olfactory artworks, Laudamiel and Herrmann developed several new exhibition forms, including Scent Squares — empty pedestal-mounted frames that visitors press on to release puffs of fragrance while gazing through them at different Kupfer works.
“I see this as an airy filter,” says Laudamiel of his almost silent, compressor-powered invention. “The point is to look at a visual through two different scent lenses. And the brain is going to connect the dots differently. ”
Another new form was developed with porcelain maker KPM. Dubbed Scent Parabols, the large, white, lidded bowls were inspired by the Japanese tea ceremony. Small knobs of porous clay sit inside, fragranced with oils. To experience a Scent Parabol, the gallery visitor lifts the dinner plate-sized lid to his nose and inhales. The “Emotions” exhibit featured five Scent Parabols — two relating to temperature (“Warm” and “Kalt”) and a triptych playing on purity and femininity called “3 Shades of White.”
These new forms are helping formalize olfactory art as a collectable prospect, says Laudamiel, who says he now spends 80 percent of his time working on ambient perfumery projects.
“What do people buy? Do they buy the formula? Do they buy the smell? Do they buy a concept? It’s a lot of questions, and we’re answering them one by one. But I hope the art world jumps in it and defines some new things for scents,” he says. Though the technology is still in development mode, Herrmann estimated the pair of Scent Squares together would carry a price of 6,000 euros, or about $8,300. Another two works released into the gallery using diffusers from Prolitec are listed as selling for 1,800 euros and 3,600 euros, respectively, or about $2,500 and $5,000. Laudamiel’s firm DreamAir sells a home fragrance kit via its Web site with a similar diffuser and set of three scents for $399.
Laudamiel and Herrmann seem most pleased with the Scent Parabols, which allow a more controlled scent experience. Signed and numbered in limited editions of five, each carries a price of 1,200 euros, or about $1,660. The Scent Parabols come with enough scent oil to refresh the effect 600 times. If a collector runs out, refills can be ordered using a personal-edition number and certificate. Laudamiel clearly wants these pieces to endure.
“After the artist’s death, there are some plans — this has to be archived to ensure the purity of the art form,” he explains. Firmenich will record and hold Laudamiel’s scent sculpture formulae, as will the Osmotheque.
Monetizing this burgeoning art form should also help legitimize it. Yet Laudamiel insists his main mission in Berlin is education. “For me, it’s obvious that we should have a price list and also give a value of things, and especially in the education part, because people think you buy a scent by the kilo, like potatoes. You never buy a Picasso or a Jeff Koons by the kilo — and you don’t buy a piece of music by the length. It’s the same for us. We want to increase the appreciation that people have for olfactory design or perfumery or anything that can be done with the nose,” he asserted.
It seems Laudamiel’s hit the target the first time — Mianki sold one of the Scent Parabols from the “Emotions” show, titled “3 Shades of White — Volatile Marilyn #15,” to a Swiss collector. “It’s fantastic for this exhibition and I’m very happy for the next steps,” said gallery owner Herrmann. He’s just unveiled a new Laudamiel scent sculpture in conjunction with the current Mianki show “Identities,” featuring terra-cotta hybrids by Italian sculptor Anna Matola and running through June 22.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye