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Monthly Archives: June 2013

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  • Current conditions, drowning in peach ocean

    Today's picture shows you a pretty much unmodified take of a bathroom interior, seen in Paris the other day, but it could be anywhere these days. All of us who have read the book "Le miasme et la Jonquille" by Alain Gorbet (The foul and the fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination, 1988) know what a large step this was, from nothingness to water toilette and from the foul to the privileged deodorization of our air.

    Proudly smelling there where no man has sniffed before, we enjoy the pleasures of peach and ocean, for the price of nothing, almost, and bath in an intensity of fruits and waves that is unheard of. And, believe it or not, the scent quality is actually not much worse than the scent of a couple of things I have smelt in the same city, but for a price tag that was about 100 fold bigger. One issue there: Trickling down, of scented molecules, from the Olympic heights of lacquered treasures in Printemps, onto the Phlegraean fields of public toilette space. Trickling down is a big problem. Sooner or later, many beautiful molecules formerly used in high end perfumery end up in cheap areas, such as scent sprays. Or worse.

    Another trouble, on a side note, is the use of aroma chemicals (and naturals) in food, like methyl antranilate, used to aromatise for instance grape soda: Methy lantranilate is also a key, naturally occurring,  molecule, found in high concentration, in the flowers of -for instance- tuberose or orange. The flower, by the way, was there before the soda. But as the soda is so "over"aromatised, especially in the US, with methyl antranilate, modern US noses have a hard time appreciating the antranilate aspect of the real thing.

    So there we go. One of the remedies for these and other troubles, when placing a new scent or line on the markets: Price. By offering products in a price range that says "luxury, rare, precious" most fragrant doubts vanish. To be honest: I am the longer the more convinced that a price tag controls the appreciation of products. In perfumery, where prices are defined mostly by distribution and by fantasy factors anyhow, and where the product is a fleeting impression, this might be even more true than in other sectors where fact based comparison is easier. The perversion of it all: Products that are affordable are often considered to be of lower quality, and of little interest to many.

    So... what do you do if you want to get in there, in the profitable perfume market? Get a heavy flacon, a heavy cap, a decent box, and charge 300$ extra for these roses.

     

  • at tauerville wrapping joy

    Today's picture shows you the result of a few hours wrapping trials and training myself on the new manual wrapping tool: The box at the bottom part is not wrapped, but put into a little polypropylene bag. This bag comes with each box and so far we used these bags to ship our perfumes.

    They prevent dust and finger prints, sort of. But some of my retailers demanded a complete sealing and wrapping that is more "industry standard": Cellophane wrapping. The boxes in the upper part of the picture show you the last boxes that I did yesterday, after training myself. They are ok, but quite there yet where I want to get to. I might have to adjust the temperature a bit. The instrument is basically just helping to cut the cellophane that comes off a roll, and it provides a sealing heated plate that allows to seal the manually folded cellophane. Thus, temperature is important. And so is the perfect folding...

    My packing is not 100 perfectly suited for wrapping, I have to admit, and I knew this beforehand. The blue cardboard sleeve helps, though. Otherwise, a wrapping of the metal box alone would be virtually impossible, for sure with cellophane. And shrink wrapping does not really look nice.

    So, yes, I am sort of happy that the wrapping works. It's just, well, how shall I say: Another step more, in an overlong series of iterations from getting the raw materials to the final product in a shelf. But then, in the end, I want to present my creations to the world. And that's the price to pay. I guess that's ok.

    At the end of the day, on the other hand, looking at things from the other side of the table, there will be a price tag for me wrapping.

    But I guess that's ok, too.

     

  • waking up in Paris

    One of the best ways discovering and learning more about cities, in my opinion, is jogging, in the morning, when the city awakes, its streets and corners still presenting the dust of the night, the trash still sitting in the shortening shadows of the sun rising, the homeless still sleeping, and the drunks of the night bumping into the busy bees that got up early to serve us coffee later at 9. I did so on Friday in Paris, as I woke up way before six; having done my mails, I decided to go for a jog, at 6.30, and I was amazed how quite Paris still is at this time around the gare de l'Est. Much more quite than I know it from other cities.

    The jog was along the Canal St. Martin, starting there where it begins at rue de Faub. du Temple and ending somewhere out there, at the Parc depart. de la Bergère, and from there back along the canal and then through the city, in a circle, discovering a few streets and corners I haven't seen yet. So that was good, and as always when jogging, there is plenty of time to think. I was thinking about fantastic raw materials that I discovered at the XI salon Matières Premières, where me and some friends wondered where the hell these wonderful materials are actually used in light of what we smell these days. And I was running away from the agitation of the next wave of zombie scents flooding the streets and perfumeries. Paris was quite a wake-up call for me, in a certain sense, and I need to get back to this point when my morning dizziness is gone.

    Today's picture shows you a Givaudan map of synthetic treasures; some of them I actually use, like Okoumal, or Sandalore (nice!) others I don't. I am so glad that these days, we can use both, in qualities seen never before, synthetics and natural. The salon featured -of course- some synthetic highlights, but most of the suppliers were producers of natural extracts and wow!, there were so many fantastic goodies to smell there. Highlights are, just to mention a few: a Tasmanian blackcurrant bud absolute. A fantastic mimosa absolute, a drop dead rose oil (actually a combination of natural rose oil and other extracts, rendering the rose oil gentler, and bringing this all natural close to the scent of real rose petals) and a Lily enfleurage, and a vetiver, and and and. This was truly inspiring and motivating to move on and play more.

    Today, I will play too, but not with scents but with the cellophane manual tool that was delivered while I was in Paris. I will do so while waiting for Fedex and trucks that pick up orders that I prepared in weekend and night shifts before leaving. I guess this day will see me going through a lot of cellophane with little results. As it says in the training manual for the tool: "The operator should at least spend 2 working days training on the machine..."

  • under a blue sky, Tuberose uncertainties

    Today's picture shows you the sky over Zurich, at 5.30 am, in a twisted way thanks to yesterday's serious evaluation of the latest tuberose centered scent that I am working on since felt eternities. In reality, I started about a year ago. And am still not there where I need to be. I tested the last version and decided that it is not there yet, missing in longevity, and force maybe. At 5 I woke up and sort of felt what I had to try next. So I got up and took a picture of the sky that will see me fly through tomorrow, on my way to Paris, for a short, cheap trip. We are trying to safe money and hence the plane. Yep. Flying is cheaper than taking the train when not planning way in advance.

    Paris will have me for two days, visiting friends, and a fair for raw materials. Fun! And important!

    After 10 am, the peace was over, when I realized that I need to plan and pack a super urgent Fedex shipment, into my warehouse, though. But there was time enough to write down the new formula, mix it and put it into the shelf. It may rest in peace and mature now for a couple of days. I changed a lot: Simplified the core, extended the base, adding a few more base notes, and changing the proportions. The previous version, on skin, was nice for about 5 minutes. It would be the perfect duty free tuberose. Simply not good enough. Maybe as splash it might work.

    OK. Time to pack and get the last minute things done before, yes , I know, I mentioned it before: Paris. 2 days without parcels and packs and more.

  • Here, heavy load of pollen and work

    Another what's up post after a busy weekend. The weather is great, and so is the pollen load that usually does not bother me too much. Except, when it is really heavy. Best is to stay inside and work. That's what I will do in an instance, packing perfume, and answer mails in the factory.

    Today's picture shows you a white flower's detail, lily, blooming these days in the house. I took the picture Sunday morning, and photoshopped it this morning. I kind of like this picture for there is a thin layer in focus only. I will upload a larger copy of it on facebook,  for those interested.

    So... Lily: Would be a nice sotto la luna scent, too. What an opulent lady. Her fragrance is simply amazing. Intoxicating yet elegant, in a certain way. But for sure super powerful.  I guess Ms. Lily will have to spend the night out on the balcony in the coming days. I did a base, about two years ago, for Lily, kind of green and powdery: I will need to revisit this base soon, and compare it, with what I have in front of my nose and what the literature says. Think "head space": Bo Jensen gives some starting information and an interesting link to a patent where folks protected a means to chemically reduce the scent production of cut lily and published some head space data. Interesting! You find the link on Bo Jensen's site.

    Another base that I did over the weekend: Rose. Kandahar rose oil being a central part, (10%), and Sunday saw me adding a couple of layers around it, like thin silk drapery. I also did an apricot-almond base (or cord). But when done with the two of them, I liked the rose so much and found it so soft and gentle: Anything that I will use around it in a formula will need to respect this gentle nature of the rose. Tricky.

    And then, finally, I could do the long awaited dilution of the tuberose version 24. Love it. So far, so good, but I will need to have a closer look in the coming days. A closer look: This is true for a couple of other things, like Italy (think:  gloom doom  boom), the brochure that I want to get done and Paris, where I need to go to this week, for a fair. OK. I better get going now. Enjoy your day.

     

  • an interview today

    Today's picture: labels for the new boxes.

    Right now, I am finishing an interview about "niche" for Harper's. A few questions, a few answers and a lot of question marks from my side. Question marks that go like "hmmm... actually ... hmmm: good question", or "well, somebody should say this, but do you really want to say this?" or "will anybody care, actually....?"

    The entire interview is about niche, basically, starting with a question what the idea of niche is for me. My answer is something like: "In the past, up to a few years ago, niche perfumery used to be a term that defined a market segment and an artistic segment beyond the "mass market" and aside the "luxury perfume market". Niche perfumery used to be low volume perfumery, with highest standards for ingredients and the formulas of perfumes, being sold outside of the main distribution channels, by selective perfumeries. Niche was characterized by highest quality standards for ingredients and creativity, and lowest marketing expenses and the abstinence from marketing blurs.

    Nowadays, niche is dead and as a term, niche has become meaningless, as multimillion dollar brands try to define themselves as niche and marketing has absorbed what used to be invested into raw materials and creativity.

    For consumers, it has become very confusing. Hence, I try not to use the term niche for my perfume house anymore. I use the term artisanal or haute perfumery for my perfume house, fitting much better. "

    When asked what the "modern niche" is now, I come up for the interviewer with:  "Modern niche", if you so want, is an industry approach to money making, by offering mediocre perfumes, with a marketing concept, and an exuberant price tag.

    I wonder whether I will get printed. But now, I have to hurry to the factory. Packing niche. ah. no: packing ...whatever!

  • Not loving is not enough

    today, just a quick post. Although it is still pretty early: I need to head to the factory and fill air in to bottles. And then put air into boxes. For this, I am printing cards right now, on my laser printer, that miraculously accepts the thick paper, which is right beyond its specs... although, funny enough: it only accepts the one side with the tauer logo in silver if put in bottom to head, not head to bottom like I should. Thus, we had to turn all label information that goes on this side by 180 °. The silver logo seems to confuse the paper detection thing. Well, must have to do with the past of the printer: It was standing in the offices of the Swiss Federal Bank. And wasn't really used there.

    Anyhow, while I fill air and boxes: Here is a quick update on the brochure thing. The picture shows you a full double page (left and right pages if you open up the future brochure thing), in the middle, and a cut of the preceding double page and the following page. The text is not really important, yet. I worry more about the overall visual impression. We have kind of 5 elements:

    Large picture, overlapping to the opposite page

    small picture, in a corner position, showing some detail of a picture that fits with the content of the text

    text, scattered, that can be read and makes sense without following any particular order

    semi transparent blue space at the bottom, with a personal statement

    hand-written "motto", header for  each double page

    Do I like it. Yes. Do I love it. No. Could I go with it. Don't know.

    What's missing? It is too geometric. Too nice without being creatively brave. It misses a few elements that render it "different". I have a few ideas, though. I am considering cutting the square pictures and bring in some round forms, some background elements, maybe changing even the format from A5 to A4, allowing me to go bigger with the main pictures and still have enough room for the text.

    We will see: I just wanted to share this with you. It is like with perfumes and their creation: even if you like a particular scent, even if you think, it is "OK", you do not really love it. And this is not enough.

  • on Afghan roses

    Right now, I am smelling rose oil, from a paper strip, organic quality, from Afghanistan. It is produced in quantities that are much lower than the demand as its quality is amazing. I was told that we have to wait for the next harvest to get more. I got 50 grams. I mentioned it before: The rose oil is the result of a DWHH (Welthungerhilfe) project running since a while in the Afghan region of Kandahar. A (German only) website informs about the project and let's you see some nice pictures where the roses grow and the people taking care of them, picking them, distilling the oil.

    Besides the fact that it is great quality. Like: Really great quality!, I love the idea of people cultivating roses instead of poppy. That's a nice story. I will use the rose trying to come up with a Christmas special, a fragrance, that plays with roses. With 50 grams, you can do a lot of perfume.... thus: no worries. Rose oil is super intense, and for many not really "nice", or "rosy" to smell. It is spicy, with hints of clove due to the eugenol, marzipan like, with some sour notes, fruity with notes of apricot, plum, peach, it is rich in citronellol. 33% of this particular rose oil consists of citronellol; this, together with two other terpene alcohols (these are simple organic molecules,  based on C5 units), i.e. Geraniol (22%), Nerol (13%), makes thus up more than half of what you get. Citronellol, geraniol, nerol are cheap and are some of the working horse molecules when constructing a simple rose. Thus, there is this citrus, waxy, typical sweet floral bright note of these terpene alcohol, very present, and inviting to play. I will do so this afternoon. I have some ideas, but am not sure yet, in which direction to twist this rose.

    A bit cliché would be to bring it into a rough, earthy, dusty, bit leathery context. (see the pictures following the above link); reflecting the land and the rough life there. A bit less cliché might be to bring out the fruits (I have this wonderful apricot natural extract), and highlight the rose by making it airy, transparent and floral; reflecting on hope and visions.

    Or do something totally different. Like a completely abstracted rose.Hmm... we will see. What I like about this little project: It allows me to work on roses again, learning more tricks, without the implications of later having to do a big launch. Just a little rose project, with raw material that comes from a region torn apart since decennials by war.

    But before I can start playing there: I need to continue on the brochure, like in the last few days. Fun, and worth sharing. Tomorrow.

    Today's picture: A shot with the phone, a couple of Marguerites, photoshopped, seen yesterday in the area.

     

  • scanning against nothingness

    today's picture shows you my working bench, with the keyboard that sits in front of the cintiq. There, on the cintiq, I will in a second work on a peony flower picture that I scanned yesterday. I hung the flower on a frame and let it sit right on the surface of the scanner without actually touching it. I will work on the picture, remove part of the dust, adjust the blackness: Scanning against nothingness gives a dark background, but as my room is not really nothingness, it is a tint off black.

    The shows and structures that you see on the picture come from the drapes in the studio room. This pattern was the reason why I took the picture. I reminded me in the fact that I wanted to get things done a bit differently for SOTTO LA LUNA®, playing with pictures and moods, and doing so on a more "private" level. For the readers new to the idea of sotto la luna (under the moon): sotto la luna is going to be a line within the tauer universe that consists of flowers, blooming under the night sky, white flowers, either by color or by their perfume. White flowers are for instance: Gardenia (finished), hyacinth (finished), tuberose (not finished).  The  shadow pattern reminded me in it as I am thinking about visuals of the moon, the night, cities, white flowers and much more.

    There is one arranged element in this picture: The flacon in the bright sunlight. It is empty. I brought it home from the factory in order to get some pictures done, of the cap, the relief on the flacon, on some details like the crimping edge on the flacon's neck. When I saw the light playing with the drapes, I wanted to see the serious and somewhat austere flacon talking with these playful elements. It is these playful elements that I want to see with sotto la luna.

    On various levels: the scent. the decoration. the visual. the message. Playful, for me, means also, not worrying about the many twisted things that happen these days in the industry and the places where perfume lovers gather. Or, like an other artist told me the other day "most of the discoveries can remain private"....and maybe they should these days. On a certain level. To be frank: It has become obsolete to  talk about inspiration as perfumer: not many listen anymore. too many scoops and visions and too many reanimated historic treasures behind too many scents have pushed the boundaries, the patience of perfumistas and perfumers. Not many listen and that's actually a good thing: My hope is that at some point, perfumistas and art lovers will start smelling again and engaging with what's real.

    Thus, in a sense, playful means maybe not sending a message out really, not talking about it to the intermediaries, not serving a precooked soup of notes, doing things differently by not doing them, maybe.

    Yet, you have me talking here, about not talking. I haven't really figured this one out, yet. Maybe I will find a way to talk about tuberose (as example) and sotto la luna less through words but more through shadows playing on surfaces.

    When you talk about a particular flower, take tuberose for instance, many seem to have very specific expectations. Mostly, I dare to state, these expectations are trimmed and defined by what we are served, by industry and by the so called niche. The mechanics are the same. I am convinced that by not talking about sotto la luna and tuberose (for instance) when I am done with it and present it, the more interesting it will become. Thus, tuberose, sotto la luna, will come, when it is ready. Right now, I am waiting for version 24 to mature and getting ready for dilution.

    Coming back to the picture, there are bottles on the right side, a common theme in the house of tauer: Bottles everywhere. It is a constant fight to have enough space to place a mouse or a booklet. On the cintiq, you paint with the pen, directly on the sensitive surface of the screen (you do not see the screen on the picture), and hence I at least do not have to worry too much about mouse space. 

    And now: the peony scan. Enjoy your day!

  • Silver, hot and stamped

    One of the things that I have learned these last few years: Things take longer than you think. This is true for all aspects of "things". Like coming up with a changed packaging. Things take longer than you would think, and this is the case for the initial plan, coming up with the details and the design, executing the plan and getting all done, and finally bringing it all out and communicating it. So, it took really quite a while from the first discussions with my designer guru up to the first bottles shipped in the new packaging.

    And I haven't really talked about some details. So there we go: The new packaging consists of a tin box, rectangular, with a sliding cover, and a cardboard sleeve, the protects the tin and adds an extra layer of finesse. My goal was: Protection of the tin. And adding a stylish, luxurious, extra(vagant) element, without going blingbling. OK: I admit. A simple piece of paper, wrapped around the tin would do the same job, or a piece of brown cardboard. But in the end, a folded, ready to use sleeve translates into easy and fast to pack.

    And, in my experience, in a first contact situation, for instance in a shop, the aesthetic quality, the charm and the value of the outer packaging communicate the values and significance of what is inside.

    That's why I wanted to have a shiny silver relief, without blingbling. Think: No Svarovski. No pearls. Today's picture shows a detail, from the hot stamping treated logo. I was amazed about the quality of the printer's job. Like "WOW"! Hot stamping is a technology (click here for Wikipedia's information on it) that comes with a price tag, but it's worth it: this bright shiny silver effect. On a structured cardboard: Superb.

    Besides the logo, the claim "Immersive Sculptures® " is also hot stamped.

    In the internet, you do not see a lot of this: Most (all?) online shops do not really show the packaging. I, on my website, do not show the packaging either. Shame on me! I figured, I need to change this, sooner or later, at least for my site.

    Bottom line of this post: Hurrah!! we have a new packaging with a hot stamped cardboard sleeve that sooner or later will find its way out there. Since its launch, the new packaging is protecting the Noontide Petals flacons. And right now, the first bottles of L'Air du désert marocain® in the new packaging have left the factory for some retailers. There will be a gradual transition, with Lonestar Memories following, Incense rosé, Incense extrême, Orange Star, too. And then the Homages scents, like Une Rose chyprée, Carillon pour un ange, and Une Rose vermeille. But that will take a while. Other scents that do not sell that strong, like Vetiver Dance, stay a bit longer in old packaging. I guess it does not really matter.

    Enough packaging for now: Next will be another trial, version 23 (oh my.. this takes longer than expected, too), of a Tuberose, under the moon (Sotto la Luna). I guess I will talk about this in detail tomorrow.

    I wish you a lovely day, may it be shiny.

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