Dezeen promotion: designers including Jaime Hayón, Nendo and Front created scent-related installations for the Milan exhibition of creative thinktank Be Open (+ slideshow).
Designer Ferruccio Laviani created the general set up of the exhibition at the Botanical Gardens of Brera, which was titled Made in: The Garden of Wonders.
"The Garden of Wonders project encompasses the knowledge that Be Open has accumulated over the years of work on different continents and different spheres," founder Yelena Baturina told Dezeen.
"We implemented a multidisciplinary, synesthetic approach, combining the visual side with scents, light, and background in order to make the whole exposition consistent."
Divided it up into three sections, the exhibition began with a visual and interactive tour named A Journey Through Scents, which was curated by researcher Elena Vosnaki and Gérald Ghislain, the founder of Histoire de Parfum.
Introducing visitors to the more general aspects of perfume, the pair worked together to provide the historical and theoretical context surrounding the subject.
This then led through to The Houses of Wonders: a series of eight pavilions each based on the rebranding of a defunct perfume label.
Tord Boontje, Fernandlo and Humberto Campana, Dimore Studio, Front, Jaime Hayon, Lissoni Associati, Jean-Marie Massaud and Nendo all created installations relating to a given fragrance within the structures.
"When we addressed eight talented designers with different self-contained visions and styles and offered them to work on perfume brands, we expected and hoped for this exactly: a composite mosaic of interpretations," said Baturina.
"Some of them focused on designing the bottles, some worked on associations and perception of scents and brands, some set about their tasks with a distinct business and marketing approach."
Using these designs as points of inspiration, Ghislain also created a new scent for each of the brands.
"Perfumes here create spaces, experiences and even epochs, while design demonstrates how much it can contribute to our perception and interpretation of perfumes," said Baturina.
A Vision in a Box was the final part to the exhibition, where visitors could see a range of bottles imagined by designers including GamFratesi and Werner Aisslinger to house the fragrances of the future.
The gold-finished pavilions and garden furniture were all custom made for the exhibition by Italian outdoor furniture specialist Unopiù.
The Garden of Wonders was the second investigative project by Be Open, following the 2014 Made in India exhibition in New Delhi.
The foundation said the project's aim was to provide an "investigative tour on the virtuous relationship between contemporary design, and the excellence of small producers at the four corners of the earth".
Made in: The Garden of Wonders was located in the Orto Botanico, Brera. Following the preview during Milan design week earlier this month, the exhibition concluded on 24 May and was part of the cultural program for the Milan Expo 2015.
For more information, visit the Be Open website.
Read on for more from the organisers:
Made In... at EXPO 2015. The Garden of Wonders. A Journey Through Scents
Be Open, the international foundation which operates in the field of design and creativity, has chosen the Botanical Garden of Brera as the amazing background of a sophisticated interdisciplinary project whose central theme is perfume.
The research is presented on the occasion of EXPO 2015 in May, with a special preview during the Milan Design Week in April, due to the aesthetic and philosophical features this products embodies.
Ferruccio Laviani is the General Coordinator for the whole set up where well known designers Tord Boontje, Fernando and Humberto Campana, Dimore Studio, Front, Jaime Hayon, Lissoni Associati, Jean-Marie Massaud and Nendo present their interpretation of defunct luxury brands.
The exhibition is the second stop of the global project "Made in...", an investigative tour on the virtuous relationship between contemporary design and the excellence of small producers at the four corners of the earth. The research on perfume focuses on the heritage of values of small business realities, communities which have been able to pass on traditions, expertise and relationships over the years.
The history of perfume is the history of raw materials from all over the world, an ante litteram global product; each perfume represented a real and imaginary journey of goods and cultures. In more recent years the relationship between fragrances and the look of the packages has become more and more intense, to such an extent that it has created well-defined brand identities, some of which are still used today.
Be Open decided to explore the world of fragrances by especially focusing on some historic brands which have disappeared, international excellences whose fame has decreased over the years because of a sometimes-too-aggressive global market. The foundation identified 8 lost brands which must be rebranded in order to protect the experiences at the basis of production and to prompt a global virtuous circle between the producers of raw materials and perfume brands.
Yelena Baturina, BE OPEN Founder, explains: "Those like me who have always dealt with business believe that the relationship between creativity and enterprise is always a stimulating, groundbreaking subject. The chance given by Expo 2015 and Fuorisalone to see the world in a single city is definitely unmissable. We created "Made in..." in order to examine the relationship between design and quality small-to-medium enterprises carefully, considering all experiences and to offer a different way of looking at the global market and suggesting solutions for the future".
An almost alchemic product, perfume is the result of old knowledge and of highly artisan manufacturing: the process of scent creation and the skilful mix of natural ingredients from the whole world; on the other hand, the look of the finished product which is conveyed by the packaging, the image of brands and the different boxes containing the perfumes. The set-up focuses on an essential feature, the European business and social fabric, that is small business realities with a strong artisan nature representing a precious heritage for the economy of many countries and therefore, the core of an ever-increasing interest.
The general organisation and set-up of the exhibition is entrusted to Ferruccio Laviani, who created a diffused museum where all parts of the project communicates with each other and with the Garden area. Describing his project, the architect says: "Nothing better than a garden can narrate the story and the olfactory path presented by Be Open: perfumes concealing other perfumes, both natural and alchemic, original and extraordinary. The layout is composed of simple outdoor elements that, due to an unusual finishing, transform the common greenhouses into precious objects containing worlds representing various essences. The gardens of Brera, then, become the enchanted forest of the painting by Alberto Savinio where colourful toys turn into fragrant ingots through in which the visitor can get lost". Laviani chose, for the Aralia greenhouses and the numerous garden furniture around the venue all by Unopiù, a unique golden finish custom made by the company which has supported the project from its start.
The production of the eight brands, in contrast, is assigned to several designers who reinterpreted their history and features according to their sensitivity in the section The Houses of Wonders: they acted as Art Directors for the brands in order to show that design can become a strong point for small entities requiring a new commercial life to meet the challenges of the contemporary global market.
Tord Boontje worked on the Czech brand Waldes et Spol, Fernando and Humberto Campana on Biette from France, Italian brand Bertelli has been reinterpreted by Dimore Studio whereas Swedish trio Front focused on the French brand Guyla; Spanish Jaime Hayon worked on the British brand Boissard, Lissoni Associati gave its interpretation to the American perfume house Lundborg, Jean-Marie Massaud on Bertif and finally Nendo has been dealing with Russian brand R.Koehler and Co.
Each one of the installations has inspired Gérald Ghislain, founder of Histoire de Parfums, to create a unique fragrance which could combine the visual impact of the designers' works with the historic perfumes now disappeared.
The exhibition is also an in-depth analysis of the economic and social potentialities of small brands and of the positive effect that their development can have on the social and economic reference systems.
In order to highlight these academic aspects, experts in the field has been involved in the curatorship of a historic and anthropological part called A Journey Through Scents introducing visitors to the most general aspects of the subject: a visual, interactive tour among the main actors, fragrances, production techniques used for perfume-production since the 18th century.
Greek-born and cosmopolitan Curator and Researcher Elena Vosnaki has been appointed to oversee the historic part, whereas Gérald Ghislain curated the section devoted to fragrances and raw materials, besides creating new fragrances for each one of the historic brands.
Finally, a special pavilion hosts the section A Vision in a Box: an imaginative showcase of different bottles designed by renown designers inspired by the shapes which will contain the fragrance of the future. Participants include Werner Aisslinger, Analogia Project, Philippe Bestenheider, GamFratesi, LucidiPevere, Karim Mekhtigian, Mist‐o, Ludovica e Roberto Palomba, Thukral and Tagra and Victor Vasilev.
The Milan program is the evolution of "Made in...India" where the Foundation explored a thousand-year culture made up of great individual excellences which have lasted so far thanks to single craftsmen which resulted in the creation of an ideal brand of Indian luxury – Samskara - mixing up old productions and contemporary designs of the subcontinent.
The program "Made in..." is also enhanced by Hands, a call for action through Be Open's social networks and the website.
Hands are the first tool ever used by human kind, they shaped the world as we know it today; hands are the link between our bodies and what surround us. They allow us to grasp life, literally and figuratively being the quintessence of creativity. The Foundation has called upon all web users around the world to post innovative content on this subject using the hashtag #BeOpenHands. Ibrahim Hammada, winner of the call for action, has been awarded with a trip to Milan on the occasion of Expo 2015.
The connection of the Be Open exposition to Expo 2015 is manyfold, as Yelena Baturina has also been appointed Ambassador of WE-Women for Expo program. As for the further development of Be Open's craft and design research, Yelena Baturina explains that it will be closely related to nomadic design: "Design can successfully bind the ancient nomadic cultures with today's global marketplace, ensuring the preservation of traditions and knowledge for further generations. This aspect of research is obviously rich in its business potential as well".