Encens Chembur
Encens Chembur, one of the first Byredo perfumes, was inspired by Chembur, a suburb of Mumbai where Gorham's mother grew up
(Image credit: TBC)

A picnic spot in Chembur, a Mumbai suburb where Ben Gorham’s mother grew up, plays a major role in the perfume designer and entrepreneur’s olfactory story. Gorham – born in Stockholm and raised in the US and Canada before moving back to Europe – visited Chembur as a child, returning 15 years later to find the area densely developed but still aromatically permeated with the distinctive incense of his boyhood memories, emanating from a Hindu temple. When he started his Stockholm-based fragrance brand Byredo, the exotic Indian aroma became the inspiration for a perfume, Encens Chembur.

‘Making perfume is an emotional experience,’ explains Gorham. ‘For me it starts with a collection of inspirations – poetry, literary texts, art, anything that helps me communicate the ideas and feelings for a new fragrance.’

It was whilst reading fine art in Stockholm that Gorham had a chance meeting with Swedish perfumer Pierre Wulff and became fascinated. An interest grew into an obsession and then a brand… to support the obsession! Six years later it’s a global business.’ Gorham’s aim is to create beautifully packaged fragrances that are potent evocations of poignant moments.
‘ We focus on a select, small amount
of raw materials and let them speak
for themselves.’


Gorham visited Chembur as a child, and returned as a young adult to find the area had changed significantly, but he was struck by the distinctive aroma of incense from his boyhood memories

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New York

Groham explains how culture and the people he meets when he travels are a big inspiration in his work. 'When I am in New York to visit my parfumier Jerome Epinette, I am thrilled by the city’s energy and noise. These are the fragments that I bring home and try to translate into smells.’

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'Being based in Stockholm is inspiring in different ways' says Gorham. 'There is a spirit of do-it-yourself that has been around for the last five or ten years'

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Making perfume

Making perfume is an emotional experience,’ explains Gorham. ‘For me it starts with a collection of inspirations'

(Image credit: TBC)

Creative director of Byredo

As creative director of Byredo, Gorham creates a brief for the perfumer. He explains, 'the brief consists of visual elements, texts, poetry, music - anything that helps me communicate an idea and a feeling that I want to capture in a fragrance.'

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Process of modiifcations

The perfumer then realises Gorham's brief by creating a first version of the fragrance which undergoes a long process of modiifcations and testing; the modification process can take anything from six months up to five years to complete

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