Carlos Huber Launches Arquiste Parfumeur’s NANBAN at Peony Melbourne + NANBAN Review


The full Arquiste lineup at Peony Haute Parfumerie

I first came into contact with Arquiste Parfumeur’s fragrances last year at a little store called Manteau Noir in Daylesford, a cosmopolitan spa-town in rural Victoria. I had heard of Arquiste’s fragrances before but hadn’t laid my nose upon them until I visited Daylesford that day. The friend I was with fell in love with the floral fragrances from Arquiste’s line, and bought the floral travel set. My heart was instantly set on Anima Dulcis, a spicy gourmand that was right up my alley: dark, slightly sweet, complex, unique, edible.

NANBAN & Arquiste Candles Launch

Fast-forward to November 2015. I discovered that Carlos Huber – artistic director of Arquiste – was coming to Melbourne to launch the newest Arquiste fragrance, NANBAN, as well as a new range of scented candles at Peony Haute Parfumerie in Melbourne. It was too late to arrange an interview, but I had the good fortune to meet and speak with Carlos at the launch, and afterwards via email. I enjoyed talking to him about some of the creative concepts behind NANBAN, how Arquiste fragrances are conceived of and made, and how architecture is intrinsic to the creation of Arquiste fragrances.

I spent a couple of hours at the launch, enjoying refuge from the sweltering day inside Peony’s cool, chic perfumery, sipping fine champagne and nibbling intricately decorated macarons. Gorgeous comestibles aside, the fragrances and candles were, of course, the focus of the launch; the entire Arquiste range was displayed prominently and artfully at the front of the store for customers to sample and sniff. I enjoyed having the chance to sample the range again, which offers fragrances that span the spectrum from light citrus through to indolic, rich floral creations, gourmands, woody ambers and richer, darker fragrances.

NANBAN is classed as a woody oriental. At first spray in the shop I detected a warm, sweet nuttiness, leather and incense, but my nose was fatigued and confused from smelling so many fragrances and candles, and I feel that I missed many of the fragrance’s nuances. As is often the case when smelling a new fragrance, it wasn’t until I was at home and able to spend a few days smelling NANBAN in isolation, note-pad nearby, that I could fully experience and get to know it. I am now very fond of NANBAN and will give my detailed impressions of it a little later, but first, let me give you a bit of back-story on Arquiste and this wonderful and complex new fragrance.


Carlos Huber at the launch of Arquiste’s NANBAN and candles

Historical Scent Stories

It’s no secret that fragrances and smells have the ability to conjure and stir up memories and related emotions in us. A whiff of darkly polished timber reminds me instantly of my father, with his penchant for antiques. YSL’s Rive Gauche transports me to my early childhood in the 1970s, watching my parents get ready for a night out at a fancy restaurant: Mum garbed in strappy sandals and a silk dress, Dad in his white dinner jacket. These memories and scent associations bypass the logical, conscious mind, transporting us, whether desired or not, to other times and places in an instant.

It is precisely this kind of olfactory time travel that Arquiste deals in. As an architect specialising in historic preservation, Carlos Huber has a talent for recreating structures and details from the past, restoring architectural forms to their bygone glory with accuracy and sensitivity. It is no wonder then that he has combined this specialisation with his love and knowledge of perfume to create a complementary output in his range of fragrances for Arquiste.

Each of Arquiste’s fragrances is an historical, olfactory recreation of a particular time and place, or even a space (as in The Architect’s Club). Sometimes these fragrances celebrate an event (the highly-charged, pre-marriage meeting of Louis XIV and the Infanta Maria Teresa in 1660 as expressed in Fleur de Louis and Infanta en Flor) or a secretly guarded recipe (the Baroque spiced cocoa recipe known only to an order of Catholic Nuns from Mexico City that inspired Anima Dulcis).

As artistic director of Arquiste, Carlos Huber conceives of the historically-based, creative ideas that serve as inspiration for the fragrances and researches them thoroughly before a new fragrance is formulated. He works closely with two highly-respected perfumers, Yann Vasnier and Rodrigo Flores-Roux, to create the fragrances, and Nicole Mancini has helped create the new candle range. Modest about his own knowledge of fragrance — he told me he would never create fragrances for Arquiste without a professional perfumer — Carlos has actually studied perfumery with Rodrigo Flores-Roux, before Arquiste even existed. In fact, these perfumery lessons with Rodrigo were so inspiring that Carlos founded Arquiste in 2011 as a way to combine his love for historical preservation and fragrance in one medium.

As we spoke at the launch, Carlos explained to me that he conceives of Arquiste fragrances with architectural principles in mind. He said that he thinks of “the base notes working as the construction’s foundation, the heart notes as the actual structure and the top notes as the ornament – the decoration on the first approach [first sniff] which lets you uncover then the rest…”


Launch at Peony Melbourne of Arquiste’s NANBAN and candles

Arquiste’s New Candles

Arquiste’s new range of four candles include three that are related to fragrances from the existing lineup, and one candle made exclusively for the St Regis hotel chain. Carlos explained that making scented candles poses different challenges in regards to controlling how the fragrance materials smell and diffuse through a wax medium, instead of the alcohol base used in the perfumes. For this reason, the candles are not duplicate copies of the fragrances, although they bear similarities to them and are inspired by them. Art Deco Velvet is the companion candle to The Architect’s Club, Mexican Baroque is related to Anima Dulcis, and Dark Galleon was inspired by the new NANBAN. They do indeed smell different, yet closely related to the fragrances, when sniffed side-by-side. Mexican Baroque, for example, smelt sweeter and more chocolatey to me than Anima Dulcis, though clearly it shared the same DNA.


A Portuguese trader’s ship, or “Nanban” ship arriving at Nagasaki, 17th Century. Public Domain.

NANBAN: Concept & Development

NANBAN – developed with perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux – is essentially a fragrance about a boat and its cargo, though not just any boat. The Arquiste website describes the boat and its special journey:

January 1618, a Japanese galleon, the Pacific ocean.

Following a diplomatic mission to the West, a galleon carrying a delegation of samurai charges through dark ocean currents. Loaded with a rare and precious cargo, the ship’s hull is redolent of sweet-smelling tropical woods, heady Spanish leather, frankincense, fine black pepper and other exotic ground spices—the intoxicating spirit of a singular, extraordinary voyage of discovery.

Source: Arquiste website

The term ‘nanban’ means ‘Southern barbarian’ and was used from the 16th Century onwards to refer to travellers who sailed via the Southern seas into Japan: especially the Portuguese and Spanish traders and unwelcome missionaries keen to spread Catholicism. It also refers to a brief-lived style of Japanese art from the 16th and 17th Centuries that displays Western influences (such as the use of perspective), presumably influenced by these foreign traders and their wares. This style of art was suppressed quickly in an attempt to shut Japan off from what was seen as the corrupting influence of the West and a desire to preserve traditional Japanese culture. The diplomatic mission/journey that Arquiste’s NANBAN refers to was particularly significant as it was soon after this mission that Japan went into cultural lockdown.

Carlos has shared with me the following personal anecdote about NANBAN:

“I was traveling to Japan for the first time in March 2014 – a country that had fascinated me in all the aspects of its culture and its history intrigued me. By chance, I found out about Hasekura Tsunenaga, the Japanese ambassador, and his journey to Mexico and Europe, the very one that inspired this fragrance. From my own studies of Mexican history, I knew of the famous commercial route from the Philippines to Mexico and then to Spain. One day, I stumbled upon the story of a singular trip that carried the first official embassy of Japanese noblemen to Europe, stopping in Mexico. Wherever they went, they tried securing commercial agreements in order to import goods to Japan. What luck that when I arrived in Tokyo, the National Museum was celebrating the 400 year commemoration of the journey, exhibiting Hasekura Tsunenaga’s original portrait. They also displayed Japanese screens painted in Nanban style, meaning ‘Western or European’ style, since it derived from the foreign traders’ influence in Nagasaki in the early 17th century. I was fascinated to discover a story that connected Mexico to Japan, and provided me a way to tell a Japanese story, from the outside, as a foreigner, like the original Nanban.”

Carlos also says of NANBAN:

“The fragrance of NANBAN represents a Japanese story outside of the traditional vision of the country. It’s not Japanese in style because it’s composed of ingredients from Europe, South East Asia and Mexico alien to Japanese culture, but that were brought into the country by the 17th century delegation. A ‘foreign-style’ (i.e. Nanban style) fragrance representing an oriental view of the West, and vice-versa.”


Arquiste’s Nanban. Photo borrowed from Arquiste’s website:

NANBAN: The Structure

Carlos explained to me that when developing Arquiste fragrances, his creative team always considers and works with three ideas. In the case of NANBAN, the ideas that were worked with relate closely to the architectural processes and principles described above, in the sense that each concept deals with a different layer of the ship’s construction, which also corresponds to the three layers of fragrance construction: top, middle and base notes.

Three ideas were considered during the construction of NANBAN:

  1. HEAD NOTES (decoration): the wind in the sails, the ocean.
  2. MIDDLE NOTES (actual structure): the deck of the ship and the sailors.
  3. BASE NOTES (foundation): the hull of the ship and its cargo.

In the end, the creative team decided to focus their direction on concept 3, the hull of the ship and its cargo, leading to the creation of a fragrance that is base note heavy, although not exclusively so.

Notes listed on the Arquiste website include: Malabar black pepper, Persian saffron, black tea accord, Chinese osmanthus, coffee absolute, Spanish leather, myrrh, frankincense, styrax, sandalwood, copaiba balsam and cade.

Review of NANBAN

NANBAN, classed as a woody oriental, is the darkest and richest in the Arquiste lineup. It is a heavy, brooding, intense creation, though it is not entirely without light, space and warmth. When I first spray NANBAN it reminds me of the sound of a rich and densely opaque chord, played right down in the lowest octaves of the piano, sustain pedal on, blending everything together. Like a cluster of notes quite close to one another on the keyboard, yet complimentary, and not at all dissonant. NANBAN is so well-blended that it takes attention and time to draw out and detect the individual notes, but this is part of what I like about it. Smelling this fragrance is indeed like going on a journey of great discovery.

NANBAN opens with a warm, nutty sweetness (hazelnut), along with leather, a sacred and rich olibanum (that great Catholic incense), and a sweetened black coffee. The complimentary notes of coffee and cade blend with the warm leather to create a slightly bitter, animalic melange. It’s like a lover’s skin, up close. After a few minutes I am witness to a dialogue between the leather and the olibanum: my nose detects one, then the other, and then my attention shifts back again. And so on.

After a few more minutes I make out an airy, sharp black pepper, which dances on top of the composition and tickles my nose a little. This, along with the smoky airness of the olibanum, adds a lightness to the fragrance: bright highlights in an otherwise dark olfactory landscape, like the light and shadows in a chiaroscuro painting. A rough, raw sandalwood adds more character to this already robust fragrance, redolent of the ship’s sturdy wooden hull. I imagine I’m inside the dark hull of the ship, packed tight with its treasures and cargo, redolent, rocking and creaking in the strong Pacific waves. Tiny windows let only the smallest beams of light in. The air is close and thickly fragrant.

After an hour or more, a lighter, almost honeyed sweetness emerges. The olibanum is ever-present, though it’s even lighter now and noticeably smokier too, yet is balanced out perfectly by the warm sweetness.

NANBAN is a potent, nuanced and complex fragrance. If I was to stereotype, I would say it’s best suited to men, but after spending some time getting to know it, I think it’s much more than that, and I don’t want to deny anyone the opportunity to try this treasure, woman or man. Lovers of dark and powerful fragrances will enjoy this. NANBAN is a indeed like the hull of a great ship: full of exotic treasures that are worth exploring.


Warmest thanks go out to Carlos Huber of Arquiste for taking the time to chat with me at the launch, and for our email conversations. Carlos provided me with a fabulous training document about NANBAN full of all kinds of wonderful information, some of which is quoted in the piece above.

Thank you also to Jill Timms of Peony Haute Parfumerie in Melbourne, for hosting a very elegant launch, providing marvellous food and drink, and the sample of NANBAN that I used to write this report/review.

Further Reading

The lovely Liam Sardea of Olfactics interviewed Carlos when he was in Melbourne and I also had the good fortune of catching up with Liam at the launch. His interview is fascinating reading.

The Silver Fox has written a fantastic article and review of NANBAN, which was an important reference piece for my own research into NANBAN. Thank you Silver Fox for your detailed articles and information!

Where to Buy

In Australia, the entire Arquiste range, including NANBAN and the new candles, can be purchased from Peony Haute Parfumerie.

Buyers in other countries can purchase from the Arquiste website, and can also find a stockist list here.

Design Age: Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 With Room Fragrances by Fleurage


Dulux Design Age Colour Forecast 2016 launch. Infinite Worlds colour palette display room.

What do certain colours smell like, taste like, feel like? Do colours trigger emotional associations, and do they suggest certain forms and shapes, the use of certain materials and the creation of certain kinds of objects? What of other times and worlds? Can these be denoted or expressed with certain colours? All of these questions were opened up, explored and experienced at the Dulux Australia Colour Forecast 2016 launch last Tuesday evening, September 1, at Meizai in Richmond, Melbourne.

The new Dulux colour trend collection is titled “Design Age”, and features four colour palettes, all with evocative names: Bio Fragility, Infinite Worlds, Future Past and Retro Remix. I’ve not been to a product launch of this kind before, and was thrilled when perfumer Emma Leah, of Fleurage in Melbourne, invited me to this cross-sensory event, which featured artisanal objects by local makers and designers, all influenced by Dulux’s new interior paint palettes and the creative concepts behind them. Emma designed a room scent for each colour palette, and textiles by Elise Cakebread, ceramics by Porcelain Bear and furniture by Grazia+Co were also featured.

As Perfume Polytechnic is interested in exploring the art of olfaction in all forms, including synaesthesia and multi- or cross-sensory events and art that features scent, I’m very excited to share my experience of this immersive, hyper-sensory event with you.

The launch began with champagne and canapés on the ground floor of the Meizai furniture showroom, which gave me time to talk with Emma Leah about her involvement in the project, the colour palettes, the concepts behind them, and how she incorporated these ideas into room fragrances. After an official welcome, we were each handed a Dulux paint colour swatch from one of the palettes, and divided into groups according to colour. Each group was then guided separately through the four Design Age room displays on the top level of the showroom.

Each of the palettes was displayed in a unique room, specially created for the launch, with wall paint in a number of colours from the designated palette. Each of the designers had their work featured in one room, although Emma had created room scents for each palette, all of which we experienced at the launch. Emma’s main focus however was on the room scent for the Future Past theme and her scent was the feature design object for this room and colour palette.

What transpired during our tour was a cross-sensory delight, an intense experience of interrelated tastes, colours, scents, furnishings, decorations, and specially designed artisanal objects. As we were led into each room, we were offered specially designed gourmet canapés and mini-cocktails by Peter Rowland catering that also drew on the theme of the room’s palette for inspiration. Emma’s scents had been sprayed into the air of each room, adding an olfactory element not often considered or experienced in designed spaces, and the scent component was a welcome counterpoint and addition to the otherwise very visual displays.

Room One: Bio Fragility


Dulux Design Age display room: Bio Fragility

“Fragile life is the embodiment of beauty…

We marvel in the intricacy of creation and its duality of fragility and strength…

Bio Fragility takes its colour cues from natural and living matter – flesh tones, lichen, moss and stone influence the subtle hues of the palette which are derived from chalky brittle elements rather than soft textures.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Canapé: Mushroom macaron
Cocktail: Elderflower martini
Featured Designer: Porcelain Bear – “Porcelena Bowl” and small vessels

Upon walking into the Bio Fragility room, we were surrounded by muted pastel paint shades, furniture, decorative objects, and softly chiming, Eno-esque electronic music punctuated by tinkly and percussive sounds, which was replicated in each of the rooms. The mushroom macaron was a surprisingly stunning canapé. It matched two of the paint colours (the pale pink “frock” and the mushroom-coloured “mangaweka”), and provided a fascinating taste combination of a sweet exterior with a pungent and savoury mushroom filling. The crunchy yet brittle macaron gave way to a gooey filling, perfectly demonstrating the duality of strength and fragility in this design concept. The elderflower martini was delicate and sweet, but not too sweet, just like the colours in the room.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma spoke to me about this colour palette and the concepts behind it – that Bio Fragility was “pastel” and delicate, but that the concept didn’t allude to softness or cuddliness, as pastels often do. Rather, the theme was more about hard and fragile surfaces, such as chalk and porcelain that easily shatters, hence the bowl by Porcelain Bear as the feature object in this room, as well as shattered ceramics as a room decoration. She says of this colour trend and her scent: “powdered pearls are a high quality abrasive exfoliant that shines and sparkles like fairy dust, and struck me as the perfect representation of what this trend captures. The scent is smooth and elegant but cool. It is alluring but what we call a hard scent. Nonintrusive but present and affecting.”

Notes used in the Bio Fragility scent and related colours from the palette*:

white musk (great star), rose musk (chamber), baby powder (chain pearl), coconut (snow queen), smoke (silkwort), anise (purebred), lilacs (partita)

*note – to refer to the full colour palettes, see the link at the bottom of this post

How does it smell?

The baby powder dominates and is soothing and familiar, and there is musk and a hint of coconut. It’s a very pretty fragrance, and it certainly smells fragile in a powdery way, a little like broken chalk, or, as Emma says, powdered pearls. It aligns superbly with the colours from the palette that were chosen for the walls, which included a muted pink (frock), a pale mossy green (fibre moss), a pale lavender (atelier) and a soft mushroom (mangaweka).

Room Two: Infinite Worlds


Dulux Design Age display room: Infinite Worlds

“As the world becomes overcrowded we explore the innovative possibilities of unknown worlds…

Our fascination with the deep ocean and infinite space inspires visions of creatures glowing with phosphorescent light against dark coloured backdrops and celestial objects such as planets, moons, exploding stars and vast nebular clouds.

Dark colours… juxtaposed with flashes of brilliant reds, pinks, coral and space age metallics. Glowing hues are used as accents to help recreate the eerie effect of deep uncharted worlds.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Cocktail: Homemade lemonade cocktail
Featured Designer: Elise Cakebread – hanging soft hemispheres and pile high club floor cushion

Infinite Worlds is an entirely different colour palette to the previous one. We walk into a room filled with deeply soothing dark and pale blues, with pops of brighter reds and oranges. The room and its contents nod back to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust of the 1970s while at the same time hinting at the future, and unknown worlds on planets far away. Futuristic textile hanging orbs and a floor cushion by Elise Cakebread are the featured design items in this room and they add a whimsical, organic element to the otherwise mostly hard and smooth textures in the room. The cocktail for this design concept is a homemade lemonade cocktail in a sci-fi shade of aqua.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma Leah in the Infinite Worlds room

Perfumer Emma Leah in the Infinite Worlds room

Emma says of this scent: “To me this is a burst of star dust – a soft metallic scent with a watery fruit note, gentle but present, cool and ethereal, gender neutral but a drifting prettiness to its feel. It flows and reveals itself smoothly.”

Notes used in the Infinite Worlds scent and related colours from the palette:

blackberry (purple verbena), melon (melon baby), pomegranate (lickety lick), metallic (thebe touch), white musk, ocean salt (lake tekapo), velvet rose (jupiter jazz)

How does it smell?

Emma’s Infinite Worlds scent is full of fruit; at first my nose struggles to identify what the fruit is and I think I’m smelling something sharp and citrussy, but then melon, blackberry and pomegranate emerge quite clearly. A sweet rose compliments and blends with the luscious fruit notes. Most of these fruity and sweeter notes represent the warmer, brighter and metallic tones in the palette, literally popping out with sweetness and brightness from the fragrance. They seem to float on a salty ocean surface, with an ocean salt note reflecting the oceanic blues of the colour palette and a metallic, slightly smoky note in the background providing further interest and a hint of sci-fi.

Room Three: Future Past


Dulux Design Age room display: Future Past

“As we move towards the future we look to reassurances from our past.

Our reality is one of a digital world where we seek comfort in nostalgic references that ground us in times of uncertainty… We are drawn to contemporary designs that evoke reassuring memories and fuse modern with heritage and classicism… This theme takes its cues from Steampunk references merging with modern design to create a new version of the old…

Deep and decadent traditional hues are made modern with the addition of mustard, pink and purple. The scents of tobacco and leather are reminiscent of an 18th century explorer’s lounge, evoking visions of luxurious browns and rich timbers.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Canapé: Roast duck tasting spoon
Cocktail: Mulled wine
Featured designer: Emma Leah – Future Past room fragrance

The Future Past room revisits old worlds and is reminiscent of times past, merging colours, materials and styles from the Victorian era and pre-WWII decades with clean and modern design elements. Shades of brown, grey and lime green dominate. Gorgeous brass lamps, wooden and leather furniture, and a shelf display featuring old-fashioned perfume bottles fill the room. A modern take on a Persian rug, in mottled shades featuring lime and musky pink, dominates the visual space. The surfaces in the room are mostly hard and sturdy, yet the ambience is warm and inviting. The rich red colour and spicy flavour of a small glass of hot mulled wine and an exquisite roast duck tasting spoon, complete with pate and dried kale garnish, expresses the opulence and vintage feel of this colour palette perfectly.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma says her featured room scent for the Future Past theme is “complex and rich but smooth and elegant. Bold and dark with definite presence, I have woven a delicate floral through a complex mossy wood with era-specific hints of unusual notes like hay, tobacco and leather that deserve exploration like the colour palette of this trend.”

Notes used in the Future Past scent and related colours from the palette:

moss (highlander), green wood (emerald forest), violets (passionate blue), honeysuckle (army canvas), lilac (purple people eater), leather (loose leather), bergamot (pickled), coriander (vintage green) and a hint of cherry (ripening grape)

How does it smell?

Emma’s feature scent for the Future Past theme is rich and opulent. It’s a beautiful and complex chypre, with an opening of fresh green notes, well-blended old-fashioned, sweet and powdery florals (including a wonderful violet), and a touch of leather and cherry to make things really interesting. It’s refined yet plush, and is a sexy, feminine fragrance. It reflects the bygone eras that the Dulux palette alludes to and yet is perfectly suited to the modern era at the same time. As Emma is a vintage perfume expert and specialises in vintage perfume making techniques, I can’t think of a better choice of perfumer to design a fragrance for this theme, mixing old and new.

Room Four: Retro Remix


Dulux Design Age room display: Retro Remix

“A new retro is formed — mixing together iconic elements from across the mid to late century…

Less of a nostalgic trend this theme explores a more youthful expression, with new generations discovering these influences for the first time and creating their own remixed style…

Experimentation in colour combinations leads to acid brights clashing with faded, muddied colours such as browns and olive greens. The colours are happy and nonconformist, optimistic and energetic.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Canapé: Banana split
Cocktail: Brandy Alexander
Featured designer: Grazia+Co – David ottomans and Bowie side table

Retro Remix blends colours and styles from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It’s an unusual juxtaposition, and one that I personally find a little jarring. Bright, clear, pop colours of the 60s and 80s co-exist alongside more muted, nature-inspired colours from the 70s. The furniture and room decorations are clean and sparse, with a nod to the modernist and slightly futuristic pieces of the 60s and 70s. The Brandy Alexander cocktail is a delicious nod to the 1970s and the miniature Banana Split is a classic, fun retro dessert, suiting the vibe of this playful palette.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma says of this theme: “Fizzy pop is what jumped out as I looked this over and my symbol of the seventies is pineapple! A lively, playful, interesting fruit that went with everything I have taken it as the cornerstone but not dominating. Instead what results is a fresh fun combination that pops with green grass, subtle woods and herbaceous greens.” Emma also said to me at the launch that when she created this scent she imagined summers from the 1970s and drinking fizzy pineapple drinks while sitting on grass. We also spoke about the use of pine in her scent, which was a ubiquitous fragrance ingredient of the 1970s.

Notes used in the Retro Remix scent and related colours from the palette:

grass (grass court), sandalwood (tuk tuk), green fern (green olive) , traditional musk (titi islands), pineapple (brassed off)

How does it smell?

Realistic, fresh, crisp and green grass and pine notes open this fragrance. As it develops the pineapple emerges, and the fragrance takes on a more tropical feel. I feel transported back in time to my early childhood in the 1970s when I smell this fragrance and reminisce about pineapple flavoured ice blocks and my Dad’s Pino Silvestre. Pineapple was king during this era, and while it is strong in this fragrance, it’s not sickly sweet or fake smelling. The sandalwood is gorgeously sweet and creamy and the musk blends in well, adding an airy, light and sophisticated aura to the composition. This room fragrance certainly matches the fun vibe of the Retro Remix palette, but displays an extra air of elegance thanks to the green notes and musk.

Gift bags

Gift bag contents

Gift bag contents

At the end of the evening we were each presented with a gift bag containing a range of goodies including a bottle of one of Emma’s room scents and a full colour brochure of the Dulux Design Age Colour Forecast for 2016. Lucky me – I managed to score three bottles of scent (from various bags) and one of Emma’s samples, so I can enjoy all of her specially commissioned fragrances at home now too.


The Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch event was a fun, engaging and creative night. I was pleasantly surprised at the degree of cross-sensory thought that had gone into the production of the room displays, the works by the various makers and designers, and the food and drink. As an artist and synaesthete myself I have worked in cross-sensory ways for a long time. In fact, I think it’s a core aspect of how many creative people think, in ways that recognise the connections between life and art, between the various senses and art forms, and by finding creative equivalences between one art form and another. It’s a method of working and thinking about the world that appeals to me, and this is why I thoroughly enjoyed the event.

The colour trends themselves were really fascinating, distinct from one another, and broad-ranging. A nod to the past and an almost nostalgic longing for the pre-digital age was a theme that traversed several of the palettes, as well as the influence of natural elements, from worlds both real and imagined, contemporary, and into the future.

I’m really thrilled that a global company like Dulux has taken this cross-sensory and very intimate approach to launch and promote its new colour range. The event was smoothly organised and felt personal, special and unique. All of my senses were fully engaged and stimulated throughout the evening.

Scent helps to create specific and complex moods in architectural and designed spaces and can be tailored to match certain colours, design concepts and themes. It was wonderful to experience Emma’s room scents in each of the spaces, and exciting to witness scent being used as a design element, featured equally alongside the visual design objects. I do hope this is a trend that we see much more of in the future.

Dulux has produced a short video about each of the designers involved in the launch:

To explore each of the colour trends further and to view the full colour palette for each of them, visit the Dulux Australia website.

To find out more about perfumer Emma Leah, visit the Fleurage website, and read my interview with Emma, right here on Perfume Polytechnic.