⟨ Treasure ⟩

Candles as stars

Aesop’s Aromatique Candles

Words & Photography / Elva Pang
Translation / Fanny Chan

海鳥飛過行雷閃電的夜空,經歷過驚濤駭浪後,海面又回復平靜,風吹走了烏雲,黑漆漆的天空裡繁星正在拼命地閃閃發光。在茫茫大海裡依靠著高聳入雲的燈塔所照射的光芒,船舶終於能在冒險旅程中找到可依靠的港灣。由巴黎藝術家Mattis Dovier創作的一系列插畫,以復古的像素藝術和8位元像素動畫來詮釋傳統的石板印刷術,這些帶點古典風格的黑白色插畫為Aesop首次推出的香氛蠟燭背後的創作故事揭開了序幕。「我們從古天文學和相關的神話中汲取靈感,同時研究了蠟燭歷史的重要性和它的意義。我們致力尋找可以使人遠離工作煩憂的香氛配方,以及能為生活帶來安然放鬆的平靜氣氛。」Aesop的創新總監Dr. Kate Forbes說。她找來長久合作、被譽為品牌的鼻子的調香師Barnabé Fillion創作出三款以古代天文學家命名的香氛蠟燭,無論燃點起哪一款蠟燭,也能讓感官引領我們走進迷人的異境,感受滿佈繁星的神奇夜空,如同看見大海裡的燈塔,讓我們找到安頓心靈的港灣。

Seabirds cruised across the midnight sky amidst the lightning strikes and thunder roars. The sea rolled high and low. But soon enough, the calm returned. The wind fell and blew away the clouds. The stars fought to be the brightest in the sky. The glaring light from the towering lighthouse shone upon the sea leading the ships back home after a long night of adventures. Mattis Dovier, a Paris-based artist best known for reinterpreting lithography with digital animation and pixel art, has created a series of black and white visuals to celebrate the launch of Aesop’s first-ever scented candle collection. Dr. Kate Forbes, Director of Innovation at Aesop, told the story behind the new release, “We drew inspiration from ancient astronomy and related myths. We also studied the importance and multiple meanings of candles throughout history. We are committed to finding tranquil and peaceful scents that can provide an escape from stress and worries.” Aesop has tapped perfumer Barnabé Fillion, a long-term partner of the brand, as the nose of this new release a trio of candles which are each named for an astronomer of ancient repute. Candlelight evokes a calming sense of wonder that is much like a magical night sky full of stars. Light one up and sail home peacefully amidst the dazzling light. 

O:Obscura
K:Dr. Kate Forbes (Aesop Director of Innovation) 
B:Barnabé Fillion (Aesop’s Perfumer collaborator) 

O:為甚麼會以「古代天文學」作為Aesop首個香氛蠟燭系列的靈感?

K:整體的概念來自「燭光之於星宿」的想法,這是我們在比較黑暗中的溫暖蠟燭與夜空中的星光後所獲得的靈感。這很快地發展成以一個較寛廣的角度來欣賞關於宇宙科學的研究,以及探索現實裡的星星擁有著原始的、跨文化的意義。最後,我們以古希臘的天文學家來為每一款蠟燭命名——分別是阿加尼斯(Aganice)、卡里波斯(Callippus)和托勒密(Ptolemy),暗喻了燭光能夠喚起奇妙的寧靜感覺,好像看到閃閃生輝的夜空一樣。

阿加尼斯香氛蠟燭的命名來自古希臘的首位女天文學家,她對於月亮和其週期的研究而聞名、卡里波斯是取自希臘天文數學家,他改善及完整了當時的行星運動理論;而希臘裔埃及天文學者托勒密則是為中世紀的天文學付出很多的貢獻。

由這些早期的思想推展開來,我們探究了星星在航海旅程和風暴後成為一個安全港灣的重要性,為2020年的逆流航行尋找到一個明確的隱喻。自古以來,恆星的位置被用來繪製航行路線,穿越如荷馬寫的《奧德賽》裡的「酒面海」。同時,在陸地上,燈塔長時間地被用來提醒船員危險的位置,在烏雲密佈的夜空裡有導航的作用。某些星星被稱為「脈衝星」或是中子星,它們是宇宙的燈塔。這些東西沿著相反的方向發出燈光,旋轉時顯得閃閃生輝,就像燈塔的光線掃過水面時顯得閃爍不定一樣。

我們看到夜空、在未知的大海裡旅行,人和天文學裡的科學及文化歷史之間的連繫似乎是完全地吻合的——確定我們慣常的哲學觀點和時代的境況是一致的。

O:可否分享這香氛蠟燭的設計(例如是顏色、形狀等)?

K:為了保持我們慣常的包裝方式,陶瓷花瓶為每一支蠟燭帶來簡約和優雅的一面,外表是粗糙的乳白瓷杯,外面刻上Aesop的標誌,內裡的釉面上印有一句詩句引言。包裝盒採用了再生紙製作,是一個簡樸和具保護性的盒子。

陶瓷杯子是食物級別的,徹底清洗後可重新使用,例如作為家裡或辦公室裡使用的水杯、實用的容器,或是充當簡樸又充滿美感的花瓶。

O:在這蠟燭系列裡,你最喜歡哪一款式?

B:這三款香氛蠟燭是Aesop獨有的芳香,根據我們個人的香水和更廣泛的產品系列所研發出來的,並沒有性別的限制,它們是適合所有喜歡置身於讓人回味的香氣之中的人。

阿加尼斯散發清新的花朵和辛香氣息,吸引那些喜歡伊斯特洛斯芳香室內噴霧(Istros Aromatique Room Spray)和散發更辛辣香氣的產品,如芫荽籽身體潔膚露(Coriander Seed Body Cleanser)及堅毅辛香身體乳霜(Resolute Body Balm)。卡里波斯蘊含木質深綠香調,它與尊尚芳香手部清潔露和乳霜(Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash and Balm
)有著強烈的呼應,並加上少許的乳香和清新活力的香草味。托勒密混合了乾燥和充清蘚苔的樹木氣息,這比較吸引喜歡使用熾香水(Hwyl Eau de Parfum)的人,同樣地找尋較濃烈、多點泥土的煙燻香氣。

首先,我會說香氣是很個人的,而且有許多因素影響我們選擇香氣,包括瀰漫香氣的空間和每天不同的時刻。Aesop首次推出的3款蠟燭被設計成互相補足的,他們有著相似的特質去配合其他的蠟燭,以及以獨有的節奏去陪伴每天不同的時刻。

獻給偉大的天文學家、一群宇宙的觀察者,這些香氣證明了我們嗅覺的存在,提醒的我們是宇宙裡的一部分。有些人希望如阿加尼斯蠟燭般,白天時被一遍長滿辛辣鮮花的草原喚醒;晚上,燃點起托勒密蠟燭,帶領我們走進日本的森林裡。有些人則喜歡在室內燃點起充滿秋天氣味的卡里波斯蠟燭,散發著較敏感的香根草和紫蘇葉的大地氣息。

O:Why did you take the inspiration from ancient astronomy for the first candle collection in Aesop?

K:The overarching concept began with the notion of ‘Candles as stars’– in its simplest form, comparing the flickering lights of a candle in the dark to the stars in a night sky. This soon evolved, becoming a wider appreciation of the scientific study of the universe and the fact that stars have primordial, cross-cultural significance. This research culminated in the naming of each candle for an astronomer of ancient repute—Aganice, Callippus and Ptolemy, respectively—alluding to the capacity of candlelight to evoke a calming sense of wonder, much like a radiant night sky.

Aganice is titled for a woman often cited as the first female astronomer of Ancient Greece, renowned for her knowledge of the moon and its cycles; Callippus honours another Greek astronomer and mathematician, who significantly refined the dominant planetary theory of his time, while Ptolemy bears the name of an ancient Greek-Egyptian scientist whose work informed much medieval astronomy. 

Extrapolating these early thoughts, we explored the importance of the stars in seafaring journeys, and in securing a safe port after a storm – finding a clear metaphor for navigating the turbulent waters of 2020. Since ancient times, the stars’ positions have been used to chart voyages across the ‘wine-dark sea’, as Homer wrote in his Odyssey; in parallel, on land, lighthouses have long been used to warn sailors of dangerous areas and to provide navigational aid when cloud cover masks the night sky. Certain stars, known as ‘pulsars’ or neutron stars, are even referred to as cosmic lighthouses. These objects radiate light in two opposite directions, appearing to blink as they rotate, just as the beam of a lighthouse appears to flicker on and off as it sweeps across the water. 

The connections we saw between the night sky, journeys into unknown waters, and the scientific and cultural history of astronomy seemed entirely apt – in keeping with our customary philosophical leanings and with the circumstances of the time. 

O:Can you tell us about the design (color, shape…etc) of the aromatique candles?

K:In keeping with our customary approach to packaging, the ceramic vessel that houses each candle is minimalist and elegant—featuring a raw alabaster exterior with a laser-etched Aesop logo, and a glazed interior with a printed quotation. Outer packaging is a modest, protective box crafted from recyclable paper.  

The ceramic is food-grade, which allows for the vessel’s eventual repurposing after thorough cleaning – it will make a fine drinking cup or utilitarian container for domestic or office items, or a modest yet aesthetically pleasing vase.

O:In this candle collection, which one is your favorite?

B:The three Aromatique Candles are distinctively Aesop in aroma and as per our personal fragrances and wider product range, will know no gender boundaries. They are intended for all who take pleasure in evocative aromas. 

Aganice delivers a floral, spicy aroma that will appeal to those who enjoy Istros Aromatique Room Spray and the aromas of our more piquant products, such as Coriander Seed Body Cleanser and Resolute Body Balm. Callippus is an opulent woody fragrance. There are strong echoes of Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash and Balm, with added notes of Frankincense and vibrant Shiso. Ptolemy features a blend of dry, mossy woods and is likely to appeal to existing users of Hwyl Eau de Parfum as well as those seeking richer, more earthy smoky fragrances. 

Firstly, I would say that scent is very personal. Secondly, the choice of scent is influenced by many factors including the space in which it will be diffused and the time of day. Aesop’s first three candles are designed to be complementary, they have common notes that respond to each other and their own rhythm to accompany different moments of the day.

Dedicated to the great pioneers of astronomy – observers of the infinite, these scents are an olfactory presence that reminds us that we are part of a greater whole. Some will prefer to evoke during the day, a landscape of spicy flowers, like the Aganice candle, and in the evening, that of a Japanese forest, like the Ptolemy candle. Others will be more sensitive to the green notes of vetiver and shiso from the Calippus candle, in their interior in Autumn.

O:在發展新產品時,你是如何尋找靈感的?

K:我們一直忽略產品潮流和行業的慣例,並以清晰一致的方式來設計產品,回應客人的需要。我們的客人經常提出對香氛蠟燭的需求,為了回應他們,我們努力不懈地與長期合作的伙伴Barnabé Fillion創作新的香氛,他是我們3款個人香氛馬拉喀什馥郁淡香水(Marrakech Intense)、熾香水(Hwyl Eau de Parfum)和馥香水(Rozu Eau de Parfum)背後的創作者,也創作了我們的伊斯特洛斯芳香室內噴霧(Aromatique Room Sprays)。

有一個共同點就是創意的過程。在我們與Barnabé的合作裡,有一瞬間湧現特別的靈感或是一連串的靈感的時刻,在面對產品的問題時,這正正傳達了一種感覺,直覺地認為是這是完全地正確的。我們經常地思考成份的組合,逐漸形成的成份讓人感到興奮。這通常是一個很微妙的現象,不斷地發展而不是突然地冒起、讓人驚嘆的那種。

O:工作中最大的挑戰是甚麼?

K:這裡的挑戰有很多,但最主要的是要確保自己對現在和未來都持續地關注,確保所有發展中的產品都步入正軌,同時花時間來計劃Aesop未來的產品。甚麼新科技是我們需要考慮的?怎樣才能令我們的產品走向可持續性?

O:How do you get the inspiration for developing new products?

K:We ignore product trends and industry convention by formulating products with a clearly identified purpose responding to the needs of our customers. Our customers have been asking us to develop scented candles for some time; in response, we have worked assiduously on new fragrance profiles with our long-term collaborator, Barnabé Fillion – the perfumer behind three of our personal fragrances, Marrakech Intense, Hwyl Eau de Parfum and Rozu Eau de Parfum, as well as our Aromatique Room Sprays.

One common thread is the creative process. In all our collaborations with Barnabé, there is a moment in which a particular inspiration or set of inspirations comes to the fore, striking a note that feels precisely right on an intuitive level for the product in question. This will often lead our thinking around ingredients, as exciting correspondences emerge. More often than not this quite a subtle phenomenon – an unfolding rather than a sudden exclamation.

O:What is the greatest challenge of your work?

K:There are many challenges, but one of the main ones is to ensure that I always have one eye on now and one eye on the future. Ensuring that all of the products that we have under development are on track, while also blocking out time to think about the future Aesop products. What new technologies can we consider? How can our products incorporate more sustainable practices? 

O:對你來說,家裡的氣味(由睡房到客廳)重要嗎?為甚麼?

B:好像香水一樣,家用香氛同樣是很個人的東西,以及是一個人的性格伸延。它們能轉變家裡的實際空間,香氣圍繞著我們,有助去創造一種情緒或氣氛。這不等於打擾原有的空間,而是伸延我們的空間,引發對其他的情景的聯想,陪伴我們度過特別的時刻。

當我們為家居選擇香氛時,它們要融合空間的尺寸、它的容量和用途,是走廊還是客廳。可是,選擇香氣還是會比較受時間多於空間所影響。

O:當你在家裡時,你會在甚麼時候燃點蠟燭呢?

B:當我在晚上回家的時候,我喜歡點一支蠟燭。我很享受它帶來的溫暖,以及看著閃爍的火光。蠟燭能創造出一份溫暖和歸屬感。

O:你會如何地在家裡度過一天?

B:我很享受與家人在一起,享受新鮮的當季食物。我們會在煮飯時播放一些悅耳的音樂,給我們的朋友做飯、一起慶祝生活。

O:對你來說,甚麼是生活的藝術?

B:保持平靜,在光線、食物、氣味、聲音之中享受所有東西裡的細節,然後以創意的思維去分享好的想法,這將會帶來很好的回饋。

O:Do you think the scent of home (from the bedroom to living room) is important to you? Why?

B:Like perfume, home fragrance is also very personal and is an extension to one’s personality. They have the ability to transform the home, redefining the physical space that surrounds us and helping to create a certain mood or ambiance. They are not meant to be intrusive, but instead draw another dimension to our spaces, to evoke other landscapes, to accompany special moments. 

When selecting scents for the home, they have to be adapted to the size of the space, its volume, its purpose – a corridor or a living room. But the choice of scents will be influenced more by the time of day than by the space in which they are diffused. 

O:When will you usually light a candle at home? 

B:In the evening or when I am back home, I like to light a candle. I enjoy the warmth it gives and watching the light flickering. It always creates a feeling of belonging and warmth.

O:How do you spend your day off at home?

B:I enjoy being with my family , enjoying fresh seasonal product that we will cook while listening to good music that we’re digging. We will cook for our friends and celebrate life.

O:What does “the art of daily life” mean to you?

B:Being calm, enjoying the details in everything in the light, the food, the scents, the sounds, and then sharing good thoughts with creative minds that will propose good reflection.