Since launching in 2014, Le Febvre’s fragrance line Urban Scents has found its home and inspiration in her husband Alexander Urban’s contemporary art space, Bäckerstrasse-Berlin, a collaboration with an Austrian gallery sharing the name. Le Febvre’s interactions with exhibiting artists led to the occasional creation of aromas that played off and complemented some of the artworks on display.
Deciding to take this creative merger to the next step, Urban and Le Febvre have renamed the gallery, and re-envisioned it to focus on the dialogue between perfumer and artist. “The idea is not to do an interpretation of their work on my own, it is really a combined work,” explained Le Febvre.
Now called Cavuspace, named for the aviation acronym for “ceiling and visibility unlimited,” describing ideal flying conditions, the venue will present four exhibitions a year featuring Le Febvre’s scents created with and for each featured artist. The rest of the time, Le Febvre will offer workshops on perfume, its composition and its ingredients.
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The project launched this month with art from French artist Pauline Bazignan, and her sculptural and painted works.
For her show at Cavuspace, titled Vulcano, Bazignan presents painted works of erupting flower forms made by putting acrylic paint on paper, then spraying it with pressurized water. The process has something in common with perfume’s ephemeral nature, she says.
“When I work, I make something disappear a little, because when I paint, afterwards I remove the pigments with water,” said Bazignan, describing her technique. “So here it is just a memory of the painting that was before — a trace. I don’t try to make it a beauty or not, I just remove everything like someone who wants to destroy. It’s like a little destruction.”
The paintings are paired with ceramics she creates using the peels of various citrus fruits — from clementines to pomelos — casting their interiors and burning the skins off to create new forms.
“Her atelier is full of smells, first of all from the citruses, and she was describing how she loved the explosion of what can be a very aggressive citrus note,” recalled Marie Le Febvre.
“And then this smell of the fire, because some of them she even puts in a fireplace. When we decided to work together she came with this idea of having to bring a little bit of her atelier into the exhibition place and that’s how we started to work,” she said.
With Bazignan’s input, Le Febvre created a scent for each aspect — one with zesty citrus and a bitter tang, the other with a warm smoky element and the resinous quality of birch tree, Styrax and fir balsam, meant to evoke trees caught in a torrent of hot lava.
Diffusers placed in the doorways of the CavuSpace exhibition rooms are programmed to alternate between citrus and smoke, and release the two scents at varied times.
The Vulcano scent weds the two elements into a perfume, available as a 100-ml. limited-edition of 20, and is priced at 300 euros, or $337 at current exchange. The glass bottle is engraved with one of Bazignan’s works, and a collectable print is also included in the packaging. The exhibition runs until November 12.
In addition to the Urban Scents line, which consists of five perfumes (priced at 180 euros, or $202) and three scented candles (65 euros, or $73), Le Febvre also creates bespoke fragrances for around 8,000 euros ($8,929).
Later this year, Urban Scents will launch a sixth perfume. The upcoming fragrance, Vetiver Réunion, focuses on vetiver grown exclusively for Le Febvre on Réunion, the French overseas region in the Indian Ocean.
Le Febvre’s Cavuspace project is just the latest in what seems to be an ongoing scent art boom in Berlin, with previous offerings coming from Christophe Laudamiel and Geza Schön.