Escape the banal blast of cinnamon, nutmeg and pine that infiltrates homes and stores this time of year. Madrid-based, self-taught perfumer Oliver Valverde, who founded Oliver & Co. in 2009, has finally brought his fragrances and candles to the US—and they’re anything but traditional. As someone who studied electronic music, Valverde’s outsider approach doesn’t follow the typical practices (or gimmicks) used by the commercial perfume industry, like the categorization of top, middle and base notes.
Valverde works with a laboratory to create unique formulas that don’t just smell “good,” but initiate an aromatic experience that extends into the mind. “The most important thing for me is the natural feeling when I burn a candle in my home,” he tells CH. “I hate the synthetic fragrances of some candles; it makes me feel dizzy and I have a headache every time. I wanted to develop synthetic fragrances that smell natural.”
“This doesn’t mean the fragrances of my candles are only synthetic, but they have a perfect balance between synthetic and natural. I don’t use only naturals because those smells remind me of something antique and old-fashioned, and also because the natural ingredients don’t perform well with the wick.” This willingness to experiment with synthetic ingredients to enhance natural scents is certainly a contrast to the “all-natural” label that many luxury candle brands have been touting lately, and results in some unique aromas.
“The process of developing Henolia was recreating something fresh, green, clean, herbal, uplifting,” says Valverde. This candle blends hay, lavender, sage, eucalyptus, but the first whiffs of Henolia—like any other Oliver & Co candle—leaves you captivated and guessing at their complexity. It’s not reminiscent of a single, telling ingredient, but conjures up a very three-dimensional space: like a Japanese bathroom or just-doused campfire in a winter forest. “Many people told me that the smell of Henolia is very close to the smell of an old barber shop,” he continues. “It’s funny that every person interacts with the smell in their own way.”
The candle’s eye-catching appearance stems from Valverde’s love of sci-fi movies like Alien, Star Trek, Dune and Avatar. “I wanted to add a bold and futuristic touch, with the intention to put a contrast on the natural part of the candles: this is the origin of the black lines,” says Valverde. “I got the inspiration from the design of the spaceships and the futuristic landscapes of those movies. I love those dynamic lines when you see the interior of a spaceship.”
Oliver & Co. candles (and fragrances) are available for purchase in the US at Personnel of New York for $65.
Lead image courtesy of Oliver & Co, second image by Cool Hunting