Interview with Alessandro Agrati, Master Perfumer & Founder of Culti
14 Jun 2019
Founded 30 years ago by Alessandro Argrati, Culti are one of the leading home fragrance makers in the world and are also hailed as the inventors of the very first reed diffuser. Based in Milan, each scent has been born from Alessandro’s experiences of the world and take up to six years to perfect from the finest ingredients. In celebration of International Fragrance Day, we interviewed Alessandro to find out what sets Culti apart from other luxury fragrance brands and how their sumptuous scents are made…
What sets Culti apart from other home fragrance brands? I’m an architect so I try to mix design and function together to create something that reaches all over the world. Over 70 thousand bottles of fragrance are opened everyday throughout the world and whilst I won’t say we are the original fragrance creators, we are however completely different to all of the other products in the industry. We are living in a world where there is too much product and sometimes we like to take a step back to remember who we are as a brand and what is the new frontier of ‘luxe’. By doing this Culti is able to offer something very different in the world of fragrances. We are recognised throughout the globe for our high quality in everything we create, from the fragrances themselves, to the timeless design of the bottles and the matching of quality across all of our fragrance options.
What is so unique about the Culti fragrances? We have just 14 fragrances, which is rare for a fragrance brand with most normally working with 50 plus. We consider our fragrances as an olfactory garden where every scent complements the next, yet each is entirely unique. These 14 fragrances allow us to offer the complete olfactory experience and each scent is born from a unique story. These scents then permit you to create your own personal fragrances in the home by layering them to form unique blends. The aromas then become something special which is always ‘you’. The materials used are also the same materials used for personal fragrance, so the liquid in the room sprays and diffusers have such high quality that if some gets onto the skin it doesn’t matter. With other fragrance companies, you will also see that they include a certain level of perfume content in every fragrance, however our scents each have a unique level of perfume to enhance the subtleties of each note. No Culti fragrance is made in a laboratory, nothing stems from chemicals, instead they are born from experiences which are personal to me. Everything starts in the kitchen, where we ‘cook’ the fragrance to capture the right scent for the experience. For example Mareminerale is taken from the sea in the morning, whereas Mountain is created from my own ski chalet where I wanted to take the scent of the wood with me so I cooked the wood with steam and water to obtain the fragrance which immediately gives the atmosphere of the mountains.
What gave you the idea to create the first diffuser? Fragrances create a magic atmosphere around us and this has been made even more possible by Culti. Thirty years ago I added sticks to a bottle of fragrance, as sometimes you don’t have time to spray room sprays throughout a room or light a candle so I created an option for permanent diffusion that permits people to maintain scents inside the home at all times. Fragrances shouldn’t be smelt up close, for example straight out of the bottle, but should be left to permeate the surroundings before a true sense of the scent can be discovered. This system is the only natural way to diffuse fragrance throughout the home. But the real difference between other diffusers and the original Culti diffuser, is the quality of the materials we use that maintain the same level of fragrance for the duration of the diffusion. By placing different diffusers in different rooms in the home, you can create your own fragrant atmosphere that follows you through each space.
What are your favourite fragrance pairings? One of my favourite fragrances is the first scent I created, Terra, which is mandarin and vanilla, but I like to play with and mix it with many of the fragrances. It’s one of my best but they are all my babies.
How are new luxury fragrances created? The company extensively controls the creation of each new fragrance, nothing is casual about the development. So when I come up with the idea to create a new fragrance I need to respect everything I’ve done in the past to come up with a new scent which can be blended with those that came before it. My idea for creating fragrances is to not mix too many elements together, just a few clear and pure notes, to match the Italian spirit. Because of this it can take more than three of four years to create each new fragrance as we have to form the new scent on its own but we cannot introduce it to the family until it respects and complements all the existing fragrances.
What is the best Culti fragrance to begin with if you are new to the brand? Tessuto is one of the best fragrances to start your Culti journey with, it is the most popular fragrance thanks to its universal notes which appeal to everybody. It was created 30 years ago and at the time I had the idea I had been working in a textile factory and I was inspired by the scents behind silk and linen, so as a nose I captured the spirit of the materials in a single bottle. Once you are used to the Tessuto scent, you can then look at exploring the rest of the collection to discover your own personal blends. Tessuto can then be transformed into your own personal fragrance by layering it with other scents like Oderosae. We have now created fragrances that you can use for every season, for every place and for every moment in which we live. They are also fragrances that can be adapted for mood, and evolving tastes.
Can you tell us about your new fragrance, Oficus? As with all of our fragrances, Oficus was not created casually. I had some experiences in Buenos Aires and southern Italy where I discovered the atmosphere that came from the fig trees which grow there and it is this ambience which I have captured in the bottles of the new Oficus fragrance. First you smell the skin of the figs, then after a few seconds the sweet inside is revealed. This is the magic of fragrances, the possibility to surprise. This fragrance can of course be matched with other scents from the collection such as Tessuto which will relax the strength of Oficus. Or if I want to make the scents of the south even stronger, I can combine Oficus with the bitter orange of Aramara to capture the sunshine’s energy.
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What Culti fragrances do you use in your own home? I normally have four fragrances in my own home. The base is always Thé and Tessuto, then I change the other two depending on my mood and the season. For example at the moment I am using Aramara too, and then I always have one fragrance that is completely different to transform the scent of a room whenever I wish which at the moment is Oficus, but this could change at any point.
How important do you think fragrance is for your home/environment? I would say home fragrance is more important even than personal fragrance/perfume as we sleep, live and move both day and night in our homes, so choosing home scents shouldn’t be casual, they should be carefully considered. Culti, is not just a brand, it is a culture to live by.