If you’ve been visiting us here at Laboratory Perfumes for a while, you might have noticed that we recently introduced some new imagery to the website. Although we’d love to say that we made it ourselves, the fact is that our skills are best limited to the scent lab rather than unleashed in an artist’s studio. That’s why, when it came to visually expressing the ideas behind our scents, we turned to the graphic designer and image-maker Therese Vandling.
Inspired by her output as an artist, we challenged her to find a way to visually communicate the idea of scent-making, using her own personal impressions and feelings about fragrance to inform her imagery.
She came back with a quietly evocative series of pieces that we believe – insofar as it’s possible to do so – capture the magic and complexity of scent in a simple but powerful way. Here, she tells us how she did it…
LP: How did you come to work in graphic design?
TV: A lifelong interest in colour and form led me to study graphic design at London College of Communication and the Royal College of Art. I’m a classic example of someone who finds the constraints of a brief inspiring.
LP: How would you describe your style?
TV: Intuitive and a mix of playful and strict. Always in the land between typography and image-making, preferably incorporating both. Quite bright and colourful.
LP: What inspires you?
TV: Trying things out – failures lead to interesting results. Nature also inspires me a lot. I get very excited about nature. London inspires me – there is so much good stuff being made here, and a lot of good people here too. I need to leave London now and then to remind myself of that; it’s easy to take it for granted.
LP: What approach did you take to creating these images? What was your starting point?
TV: I was interested in the idea of visualising how scent moves in a physical space; what that might look like. It’s a very abstract and subjective concept so I had to really use my gut instinct to do what felt right for me and hope that it translated to other people too. You might not look at the imagery and instantly know exactly what it’s supposed to be or say, but it should leave you with a feeling that is right for the scents. It’s a bit difficult to explain in words. Nature is obviously a big source of inspiration for both me and the Laboratory, so it made sense to look for inspiration there. Using forms and patterns created in nature felt right.
LP: What’s it like working with scent as a subject? Easier, because there’s no preconceived imagery, or more challenging for the same reason?
TV: I think it’s challenging in a good way but made easier by the fact that Laboratory Perfumes are very open minded to non-literal ideas.
LP: Do you think of scents as having colours and/or textures?
TV: Yes definitely. Smell is such a powerful sense for me, a sudden familiar scent can really throw me back to another place and time in a super-physical way. I can actually feel being somewhere else even if just for a second; it can be quite unnerving and emotional. In that sense I think it’s both a very visual and physical experience.
LP: Both scent and colour have the power to influence mood. What colour is your happy place and what does it smell like?
TV: I get excited about colour. It’s not a single colour that excites me the most but unexpected combinations that turns out to be very pleasing. I’ve had an obsession with peach for a few years, but only as long as it’s next to something else. Mustard, peach and burgundy is a good one at the moment – that would probably smell like autumn leaves, which is a scent I love and find very comforting. But since we’re now in spring, I should pick something more appropriate for the season – let’s say slate-gray, pale blue and bottle green for summer rain.
LP: What led you to the circle of dots motif? Does it signify something in particular?
TV: It was part of the idea of how scent moves – one of the graphic elements created to convey this concept. In a very crude way the dots signify tiny droplets as they are being sprayed through a nozzle – if that makes any sense at all?
LP: The images have a whisper of the flag of Japan in their geometry – is that deliberate?
TV: Ha! Not at all, I had not even thought about it like that. Hmm… I guess it does!
LP: What’s your favourite Laboratory perfumes fragrance?