French design company M/M Paris has launched M/Mink Eau de Parfum in a collaborative effort with Stockholm based fragrance house Byredo. In 2009, reversing the usual idea of receiving a brief from a client, Michaël Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak invited Ben Gorham of Byredo to their studio in Paris and presented him a creative direction and concept: a block of solid ink purchased in Asia, a photograph showing a Japanese master practising his daily calligraphy, and a large utopian formula that Mathias drew on Korean traditional paper. Together with renowned perfumer Jérôme Epinette of Robertet, Ben translated these three images into a fragrance. M/M Paris is promoting the new fragrance with a series of artworks based on images by Dutch photographers Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin. The campaign won a Gold for print at the 2010 Epica Awards. The images are available to download as iphone, ipod touch and ipad wallpapers at M/M Paris, as well as in poster and postcard format.
Michaël and Mathias describe their experience and the process behind M/Mink.
“The common rule in the perfume industry is to create a perfume and then produce an image to promote it. It is for us evidence that a scent should be inspired by an image and not the opposite. A scent is often linked to an image. The history of literature is full of those examples. For a French reading person, Baudelaire gives a good example in Le Parfum: De ses cheveux élastiques et lourds Vivant, encensoir de l’alcôve Une senteur montait sauvage et fauve. In the past we did receive in our studio several perfumes created under the name byredo. Everything about these products was perfectly detailed, from the box to the bottles to the evocative names given to each one of them. It is rare in our days to find objects with a soul that perfectly fits in the trivial world we’re living in. Even though perfume is totally useless, these seemed to fulfill a kind of spiritual function. They had for us the ability to recall poetical experiences, which can save, or more simply re-articulate our lives — lets think of Rimbaud or Huysmans for a minute. All those ingredients put into condensation into simple objects excited our curiosity.
After some research — not a very complicated one, as we only had to ask one of our former Swedish collaborators where those products were coming from — we found out that behind these refined articulations of thoughts was hidden a former international Swedish basketball player covered with tattoos named Ben Gorham. We were not curious at all to know if Ben Gorham was a talented basketball player, we were curious to know if Ben Gorham could produce the smell of an image.
For us the perfect image lays between a previous one and another to come. So we invited Ben a year ago and gave him one of our 3-step images. It consisted of a block of solid ink purchased in Korea, a photograph of a Japanese friend drawing an ideogram and a large utopian formula Mathias drew on Korean traditional paper on the French Riviera during the summer of 2008.
Ben returned to Sweden and came back to Paris seven months later with a scent. This was his translation of the three images he was given. When we tried his proposal, we truly wanted to call it a smell. A smell as in Smells Like Teen Spirit like Nirvana used to sing. At first it truly smells like ink but slowly it turns into the idea of ink. The ink that irrigates the three images we gave to Ben in the first place. It is the blood, the spirit that gives life to this visual articulation. It is the perfume of a spirit writing in immaterial ink under your skin.”
The M/Mink launch campaign was developed at M/M Paris by creative directors/art directors/illustrators Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak, photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.
Michaël Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak established M/M (Paris) in 1992 as an entity able to work across all creative fields such as art, fashion or music. Their works have been featured in places such as the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Drawing Center, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt.
Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin have together collabored intensively over the last 15 years on fashion campaigns for brands such as Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Givenchy and Yohji Yamamoto, as well as working in close collaboration with musician Björk.