Objectifying scent is fast becoming a popular pursuit for artistically-minded followers of fragrance. The latest example comes from London-based perfume-makers Laboratory Perfumes, who invited the artist Zuza Mengham to represent their five unisex scents in physical form. Seven kilograms of resin make up each of the infinitely Instagrammable, multi-faceted sculptures which were her answer to the call.
Mengham, whose work treads a line between art and design, typically likes to challenge functionality, by putting her exploration of materials and traditional craft techniques first. Her art often look like pieces of design but have limited use, with metal and resin being among her favoured materials. Her experiments with resin have resulted in a line of jewellery, one area in which abstract sculpture can easily acquire a function, and now this experimental visualisation of olfactory art, which remains resolutely abstract.
Flowers, herbs, aromatic botanicals, nature and irrepressible curiosity are the springboard for Laboratory Perfumes’ creations and provided the muse for the unique sculptures.
Each one takes its name and inspiration from the perfumes; Atlas, Amber, Gorse, Samphire and Tonka. Mengham made a conscious choice not to read the descriptions that came with the samples but took inspiration from smelling them herself, closely studying individual elements of nature and interpreting these with colour, shape and texture using the distinctly man-made material.
The resulting sculptures are strikingly colourful and texturally playful inside but smooth-faceted and gem-like on the outside. For the piece based on the scent Atlas, which is the newest fragrance in Laboratory Perfumes’ stable and, inspired by Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, is built around notes of tobacco, rum, vanilla and hay, Mengham says, 'I flushed a chestnutty cherry colour to create a marbling effect, which captures the idea of the movement in an airy lofty peak.'
Like the perfumes that inspire them, Zuza Mengham’s creations are breaths of fresh air.