Selfmade Experts: Mario Lombardo on scented candles

©Collage Julia Zierer

Mario Lombardo is a graphic designer and creates design concepts for various magazines, department stores like the KaDeWe or clients such as Louis Vuitton. With Atelier Oblique he’s realized a long-fostered idea and in the interview discusses his collection of scented candles a bit more in-depth. The candles are available for purchase online and in his lovingly designed shop on Mulackstraße in Berlin.

When I was five or six years old, my family and I fled Argentina and for 16 years there was no possibility of going back. During this long period I worked intensely to create my own images of “my Argentina.” As we fled even further, I realized nothing was real about them. It was at exactly this moment I understood that what you see isn’t always real, and subjective perception is often quite different. Despite this, I immediately felt at home in Argentina, which, after really thinking about it, was because of the smell. You can’t really explain it, it’s always there and transports memories and feelings. This realization stuck with me for years.

All too gladly, I would have brought these ideas into corporate design, which, by now, many department stores have started to do in order to create a certain mood. Or in art, but that’s often very costly. Through different experiences and too much work I came to the conclusion that it’s about the moment. I was interested in the process of “coming down” and thus, the idea of focusing on these scented candles was solidified.

To get started, I looked for people who were familiar with scents. I found them at Robertet (a traditional house that has existed since 1850). However, I had to actually apply and was afraid they wouldn’t take me. In reality, the scope of my project was much too small to be of interest for such a prestigious house. But they liked it!

For the individual scents, I verbalized what I remembered about individual people or moments. In the beginning, I only wanted to create a single scent, but I couldn’t decide. Above all, I didn’t want an unnecessarily strong scent, that’s why, in the end, there were several. The “Alphabet Collection” was born. For example, “N” stands for my mother Nilda, who loved roses and always wore perfume that smelled like roses. The different nuances of the blooms are processed into top, middle, and base notes, completed with hints of peppermint which communicates a certain coolness. A classic scent with a modern note. Every letter has its own world. Most are relatively pure, but they follow the classic aforementioned three-step principle. They unfold with new aromas as they gradually burn down.

Normally, the concentration of fragrance is 6%, we wanted an intense effect and chose 8%. I specifically chose candles and not perfume because, for me, it was about the room. The aura of a room is wraps around you and influences anyone in the space. That’s what I wanted to influence and I succeeded wonderfully with the scented candles. My personal favorite is, for example, the smell of freshly washed clothes (Candle “W”). Or when sea air breezes through an open window and mixes with the scent of an inn or with the smell of coffee from the kitchen (in the “A” candle, but taking the place of the aroma of coffee is a mix of green tea and musk). And the smell of drawers, that I, for example, know from old dressers in Italy: woody, mossy, dusty (as in the “M” candle).

Freshly cut grass, cherry blossoms, these are smells that immediately transport me somewhere, to my childhood, on vacation with my parents. Personal touches were also very important in the design. The signature is always from me as well as the design of all the glasses, which are manufactured and hand painted in Germany. Together with a craftsman, I designed the shop – at least to the extent that my skills would allow. I wanted to feel everything myself and to be an active participant. The scents are created in France and I wanted to create a suitably Parisian space for them.

More infos via www.atelier-oblique.com, the shop is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 11 to 20h and Saturdays from 11 to 19h.

© Julia Zierer
Translation: Alicia Reuter
Julia Alfert

Originally from Hamburg, Julia Alfert moved to Berlin from Paris in 2010. After completing her studies in Art History and trying out different jobs, her path led her to Harper’s Bazaar, where she worked as Fashion & Beauty Assistant until mid 2015. While she’s harboured a love for all things beauty-related for as long as she can remember, her discovery of the written word is recent. When Julia isn’t busy trying out different creams, oils, and sprays she writes and styles for an assortment of magazines and websites.