03. Casa Malaparte: Experiencing Architecture Through Scent
Updated: Feb 15, 2020
How a collaboration with perfumer Jerome Epinette brought the concept of an enigmatic architectural icon to olfactive life.
You’ve seen Casa Malaparte before, though you may not have realized it - most famously, in Jean-Luc Goddard’s 1963 film, “Contempt" (Le Mepris) starring Brigitte Bardot as the blithe femme fatale, and most recently as the backdrop in a series of advertisements for high profile designer brands. The iconic villa, a radically modernist structure for its time (1937), is as provocative and mysterious as its designer/owner, Curzio Malaparte - journalist, diplomat and agent provocateur, and continues to seduce and mesmerize enthusiasts of history, design and architecture alike.
Set on Capri, the fabled isle of pleasure, the house sits alone, perched eighty feet above the sea atop a rocky promontory overlooking the Bay of Naples. The only access is by a long, winding footpath through thick, green vegetation or by sea - precariously climbing the jagged rock via a staircase carved into the stone. It is a striking juxtaposition between the natural and the man-made. The house has always been an obscure object of desire to the curious and those who dreamt of inhabiting her, if but for a moment - yet very few have ever been allowed inside. The closest they’ve come to experiencing it has been through an SLR zoom lens aboard one of dozens of tourist boats anchored below. To all who make the pilgrimage, Casa Malaparte appears to be the perfect symbol of solitary beauty, and like the Bardot character, lies in state as a blissfully indifferent exhibitionist luxuriating in the Amalfi sun.
To capture the essence of Casa Malaparte, we wanted to create a fragrance that represented both the physical qualities of the natural surroundings - the sea on one side and green vegetation on the other - and the modernist, formal element of the house itself and what it represented: a sculpture that bridged the gap between land and sea, between the natural and the synthetic. We wanted to create a space within the aroma that was inviting, contextual and representative of the uniqueness of the house and its surroundings.
We chose a sparkling citrus note to give it a light, airy, overarching quality - typical of an Amalfi summer day. A nuanced, lush green base coupled with an ethereal salted sea air accord were chosen to represent the building’s overt, external sensuality and to give it context, while an accord of heliotrope, bright florals and white musk were designed to capture the mysterious and incomparable splendor of what inhabiting such a beauty might feel like. Want to experience the scent? Try it here.