INTERVIEW BY PERFUME SOCIETY

 

To serious fragrance-lovers, Swedish perfume house AGONIST is known for two things: fantastic smells, yes – but also for extraordinary, hand-blown Swedish glass flacons, each a work of art in their own right.

AGONIST was launched in 2008 by the creative couple, Christine and Niclas Lydeen.  With French roots, Christine’s background is in fashion: she studied at Studio Bercot in Paris, working in the city’s fashion world before moving back to Sweden – where she met Niclas. ‘I was working as a graphic designer and Art Director. We started to collaborate on this idea of how to create a brand – via imagery, storytelling, graphic design and conceptual ideas – based on giving life to an invisible product like fragrance.’

They shared a love for fragrance, fascinated by its power. And, Niclas continues, ‘We started to think about themes and ideas. We wanted to show another side to this perception of clean Swedish design. We were more inspired by a poetic, darker and melancholic side of the Swedish culture and heritage.’

Each of the unisex fragrances – which are created using mostly natural ingredients in collaboration with renowned perfumers – is offered in two formats. The Sculpture Line is AGONIST‘s ‘haute couture‘ presentation, produced via a collaboration with the multi-award-winning glass artist Åsa Jungnelius and the international renowned glasswork Kosta Boda, whose atelier is situated in Sweden’s deep forest area of Småland.

‘Since each olfactive experience is very individual we want this also to be expressed in the sculptures. Each sculpture is therefore unique and one-of-a-kind as your own olfactive experience.’ The design-minded duo explains, ‘Our initial idea was to create a perfume bottle that you would never throw away.’ So, they continue, ‘We wanted to start… with refillable flacons which you have in your home that your children will inherit. Hopefully when you find a fragrance you love, you really want to cherish and keep it.’

 

‘But since the fragrance is the hero in our work and everything derives from that, we wanted it to be more accessible. The fragrance comes in this haute couture option and a ready-to-wear. For us it is very important that there is a strong connection between the sculpture and the spray version. We have a patented solution where every spray bottle has a colour-coded base which connects it to the sculpture. And we have placed all the fragrance notes on the front of the bottle, letting the customer come very close to the experience.’ 

So you can read on the bottle of fresh, vibrant Isis that it blends cistus, tangerine, ylang ylang, black pepper, ginger, anise, peach, caramel, nutmeg, amber, musk, benzoin, vanilla absolute, labdanum. For Onyx Pearl – often worn by the couple themselves – the line-up of ingredients is: Oriental flowers, Arabian oudh, white leather, heliotrope, Indian amber, Indonesian patchouli, Australian sandalwood, Virginian cedarwood and white musk – a list that shares the ‘provenance’ of ingredients captured in that oudh-based fragrance, which was originally inspired by the visual imagery of Guy Bourdin. In fact, Niclas and Christine explain, their varied inspirations come ‘from all aspects of life in general. From the mundane to the extraordinary. Everything that in some way moves our senses – scents, sounds, taste and tactility, art, music, literature, movies…’

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No 10 White Oud Sculpture

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KALLOCAIN Sculpture

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Dark Saphir Sculpture

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The Infidels Sculpture

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Liquid Crystal Sculpture

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