The Power of Fragrance: Interview with Dr Vranjes
Dr Paolo Vranjes is a pharmacist, chemist and accomplished artisan perfumer with a passion for the olfactive memory. Founder of the Dr Vranjes home fragrance brand, it was established in Florence in 1983 with a dedication to create evocative fragrances through pure ingredients and the world’s finest essential oils.
At the very core of Dr Vranjes’ work is the observation that certain scents can evoke special memories, a passion he was pleased to share with us when we met with him at his London office during a short visit to the UK. A bright and airy space filled with his signature Florentine-inspired fragrance diffusers, he told us with great pride about his Italian heritage and how the power of fragrance can enhance our everyday lives…
Can you remember what first sparked your interest for fragrance?
*My interest for fragrance started when I was six years old. My grandfather used to collect precious essences in special bottles and I would go up to the cabinet in which they were stored with my nose against the glass. I had no interest in soccer like other little boys my age; I was fascinated by these bottles and the fragrance that was captured within them. One day, my grandfather opened the cabinet and took two bottles from the display, he thought I just wanted to touch them but I smelt everything. From that moment on I used to go in there to touch the bottles and to experience the fragrances.
When I was ten years old I had my own little laboratory, I would go with my father to the university in Bologna to buy the equipment but of course, as everybody did at the beginning, I broke a few glasses and distilators.
After university I became a cosmetologist and pharmacist, working for seven years for two of the most important cosmetologists in Italy. At that point I created a real laboratory and created perfumes for cosmetic use, it wasn’t until after I started to work with important spas that I succeeded in finding a direct link between olfactory memory and fragrance.
I will never stop studying aromatherapy and aromachology (the influence of odours on human behaviour), aromachology is directed to our brain, our psychology, it’s linked with our olfactory memory which is something that’s really fascinating to me. I find it so interesting that our nose is directly connected to our central panel control; it can connect us to different people, situations and memories. Each fragrance I create I am trying to recreate a memory, whether that’s of a person, experience or sensation.*
Which bottle holds your favourite memory?
If I had to choose one it would be Tuberosa Mughetto which is dedicated to my mother’s memory. When I was three years old I would visit a friend of my mother’s quite often, and although I was only three years old I could still, even as an adult, remember the perfume of her home. After a few months this woman died and even then I could describe to my mother the perfume that I remembered from her, the tuberose perfume and the white mughetto flowers in the centre of the table.
It’s curious and interesting, playing with the psychology in this way we are able to do great things. By working on aromatherapy and aromachology we are able to suggest the best ambient space for different fragrances and can use important essences such as spices to give energy to a room.
How has the city of Florence influenced your fragrances?
Florence is a great source of inspiration for a lot of people. Living and working in Florence means that I am able to work with artisanal people, everything you see in the Dr Vranjes collection, from the bottles to the packaging, is handmade by these talented artisans.
The bottles are inspired by the Duomo, the most iconic building in Florence. When Brunelleschi created that part of the dome, everyone said he would never make it, it would not be sustainable, but it is still standing today. There is as much mystery inside a Dr Vranjes fragrance bottle as the dome; it is a secret inside the mystery.
The paper we use in the packaging isn’t normal paper, it is an old Florentine paper and the glass we use is beautifully detailed and mouth blown. We are proud to say we are the only company in Florence who produces everything, from the creation to retail, entirely in the city.*
What do you enjoy most about creating fragrances for the home?
My hobby is to create fragrances for specific uses and specific residences. When creating a fragrance for a particular interior, I like to know the time it was built in, the materials used, the colours and the amount of light that is available in the space. In this way I am able to capture the small elements, put them together in alchemy to create a product that is in full harmony with the environment.
It is essential that I study the environment I want to create the fragrance for, so when you enter the room you feel good, the right fragrance will make you feel welcome. For example, in rooms which contain a lot of light, I recommend marine notes or white flowers, something that is very light and inspires you to breathe the fresh air. For wooden environments, for example a library or a studio, I recommend spicy, cocooning fragrances to help you concentrate.
How long does it take to create a fragrance from start to finish?
I have been studying for more than three years for the new fragrance. The main difficulty when creating a new fragrance is the compatibility of the essences among each other. I have created the essence of champagne before, but it was difficult to find the appropriate peach essence that would mingle with the champagne to create a synergic effect.
Generally speaking there is one main essence in every fragrance, this main element could really dominate the others so it’s essential to find the right balance without one being too overpowering. For every attempt I make at a fragrance, I let it ripe for one month before seeing if it works harmoniously together.