By Sabine Zetteler
Published August 15, 2016
What does an aroma look like? Can scent or smell be sculpted? Even if they are as intangible and as nostalgia-laden aroma of pipe tobacco, with layers of rum, vanilla and hay, and fresh ozone top notes as those of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains?
Artist Zuza Mengham has a few ideas on the subject that she will be sharing for a fortnight with a special exhibition of artwork displayed under the title, ‘Sculpting Scent’.
The aromas of the Atlas Mountains she has interpreted in a prismatic miasma of umber and ochre that echoes the mountain silhouette will be for sale from £1200 after the exhibition!
For inspiration, Zuza Mengham has turned to Laboratory Perfumes’ portfolio of fragrances as the starting point for an experimental series of five coloured resin sculptures, each designed to represent one of the brand’s fragrances: Amber, Gorse, Samphire, Tonka and the soon-to-be-released fifth scent, Atlas – which will be available exclusively at The Conran Shop during the exhibition.
Zuza Mengham’s astonishingly beautiful sculptures do a remarkable job of rendering the nebulous idea of scent into something tangible and visually hypnotic. Four of the pieces will be available for sale at the exhibition during the London Design Festival (September 15-25, 2016).
As part of its ongoing exploration of scent’s relationship with other senses, London-based fragrance maker, Laboratory Perfumes, has been working with artist and designer Zuza Mengham to consider ways of translating intangible fragrances into solid sculptural forms.
Taking the brand’s four existing scents as well as a soon-to-be-launched fifth fragrance, Mengham created a series of resin sculptures which will be displayed in The Conran Shop on Marylebone High Street.
Mengham has transformed the individual notes of the fragrances into unique combinations of colours, angles and visual effects. The ocean-reminiscent freshness of Samphire is evoked by the way the light plays through layers of translucent resin; the crisp citrus of gorse become a clear yellow hue; and the eponymous beans of Tonka are represented in speckles of slate.
“They are the perfect encapsulation of scent. Zuza has captured the resonance and register of fragrance. She understands they are not simplistic or binary,” says Aaron Firth, founder of Laboratory Perfumes.
The Sculpting Scent exhibition also celebrates the launch of Laboratory Perfumes’ fifth scent – Atlas – with a limited quantity available exclusively in The Conran Shop for four weeks before its official release at the end of October 2016.
Inspired by the scents and scenery of Atlas Mountains, five sculptures of the Atlas fragrance will be presented in a special exhibition in the windows of The Conran Shop, alongside the Laboratory Perfumes range of fragrances and candles that inspired them.
The roots of the exhibition reach back to December 2015, when Firth was looking for artists capable of representing the nuances of scent visually. Upon discovering Mengham’s unique prism sculptures, he has struck by how they were “modern, angular and with multiple facets – like a fragrance”. Zuza was asked to explore the concept further, resulting in five remarkable pieces that take advantage of the full spectrum of visual and textural possibilities afforded by resin.
“I made a conscious decision not to read the descriptions, but to smell them all and see what I could decipher from them first directly, taking notes and ideas. After I matched them up with their descriptions I made a series of drawings with watercolour overlays, building up the colours and patterns until I was happy they translated in a way that felt appropriate,” Zuza Mengham says.
Sculpting Scent shall be open 10.00 – 19.00 (Monday – Saturday) and 11.00 – 18.00 (Sunday), September 15–25, 2016.