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Why bespoke home fragrance is 2017s hottest new trend

PUBLISHED: 11:48 06 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:12 06 March 2017

Fig, vanilla and cacoa diffuser from Sara Miller London

Fig, vanilla and cacoa diffuser from Sara Miller London

Archant

With a raft of brands revamping the reputation of home fragrance as a small slice of luxury in these troubled times, our homes have never smelt – or looked – so good.

Pink grapefruit, tonca and yuzu candle from Sara Miller LondonPink grapefruit, tonca and yuzu candle from Sara Miller London

From the 70s student bedroom vogue for joss sticks to the 1980s ubiquity of potpourri, or the noughties Diptique Philosykos revolution, how our homes smell has long been a marker of identity and status.

High end candle brands with elegant packaging have ruled the day in north London’s most stylish homes for the past decade or so and it’s something of a surprise not to be greeted by wafts of fig leaf in high end hallways from Hampstead to Highbury.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the purveyors of sheer luxury have upped the game. It’s no longer good enough to have mantelpieces heaving with Cire Trudon and Fornasetti; if you want to display your luxury creds, your guests shouldn’t be able to identify the delicious aroma emanating from your abode because you’ve commissioned your very own unique scent.

Top end developers are even creating bespoke fragrances to lend a special air to their high end developments. At Buxmead, on the Bishops Avenue, Harrison Varma engaged the services of Alexandra Soveral to create the upmarket pine scent identity for their multi-million pound apartments. Unsurprisingly, AirWick it ain’t.

Haeckels diffuser, WCD Designs, HighgateHaeckels diffuser, WCD Designs, Highgate

Not everybody has the connects to summon the world’s top perfumers to whip them up their own personal blend but home fragrance is definitely having a moment – and we can even blame that on Brexit and Trump.

“It’s that whole feeling of the hygge movement,” says Avril Castellazzo of WCD Designs in Highgate.

“The only thing you can control in the world is your own environment so make it as lovely and comforting as possible because outside the window it’s not so comfortable and lovely. You want to be warm, you want to be cosy and with everything going on in the world at the moment it just makes you feel a bit better.

“People aren’t just buying candles as gifts any more, they’re buying them for themselves.”

Bubbles and Light candlesBubbles and Light candles

There’s a ritual element to scented candles that helps create that calming atmosphere at home to will cocoon you from the outside world. Picture settling down with a good book, tea in a beautiful cup, and a candle flickering in the background. Or the ever popular soother – cited by Mikey Reynolds, co-founder of Hampstead’s Bubbles and Light – of running a bath, pouring some wine and lighting up.

The shop stocks an ever growing range of eco soya perfumed candles, many of them handmade by Reynolds himself in his Hampstead kitchen covering all bases from floral or fresh to musky sophistication.

While Reynolds appreciates the ritual aspect of lighting a candle and creating a special atmosphere, he says that glass bottled scent diffusers are almost equally popular for creating scent zones throughout the house.

“You wouldn’t put a lemon diffuser in the bedroom because you’re going to be dancing round the coffee table all night,” he advises. “If you want one for the entrance hall you want something that’s going to be inviting people in, you want something nice and luxurious for the lounge. For the bathroom you want something clean but not too heavy. Diffusers are great because you can just set them up and they’re ready to go.”

For me a scent diffuser conjures up memories of the sickly sweet synthetic smells of yore, but apparently in this I am well behind the times.

Castellazzo points me towards the Margate brand Haeckels, whose scent diffuser – a brass, chalk and pipette bottle operation produced in collaboration with lighting brand Buster and Punch – is as much about the edgy modern design as the seaweed-based natural fragrance.

“It’s almost like a piece of furniture, you want it on show because it looks so achingly cool,” she says. “It’s a talking point. There’s a lot of thought that’s gone into it, it’s not just a bottle with a few sticks sticking out of it.”

Presentation is also key for South Hampstead-based Sara Miller who has recently introduced a home fragrance line to her range of stationery and gift wrap.

With her background in design, creating a unique look for her candles and diffusers was the starting point for Miller.

Not only does the packaging of the range diverge from the traditional calming, tranquil look of many candles, but the wax and glassware have also been given the Sara Millertreatment.

“My design work is influenced by my travels across Asia, so I wanted to bring the influence from the design and visuals aesthetically and marry it up with a fusion of fragrances to create something totally unique,” she says.

“I’m passionate about print and pattern so I’ve used the bright colours and flamingos and other patterns but I wanted the actual glassware to be a lot more home focussed. We’ve got three colours: dark grey, a navy blue and pale grey. I didn’t want to do bright pink glass, I thought that might feel a bit too gimmicky but the candles are lined with gold inside so they glow when lit.”


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