Images courtesy of Norlan
Anyone who has visited Scotland’s Highlands, the Isle of Skye, or Islay, understands the importance of olfactive memories. Each stunning landscape or stiff, salty breeze receives sensory accompaniment and scent holds great importance. Thus, Norlan—a design brand that’s so far sought to perfect the whisky glass—has ventured in a new direction with the introduction of their Vam Terrain Fragrances and Vam Monolith Diffuser. Each of their three debut scents are inspired by a distinct Scottish region that Norlan’s creative director and co-founder Sruli Recht and master perfumer Mark Buxton (who was behind the debut Comme des Garçons scent and many other iconic fragrances) visited together. The sculptural diffuser, composed of reticulated ceramic foam, channels each scent—and in many ways, the lands they represent.
“The brand architecture has always been an organic journey and very much based on what we feel should come out, and not just tied to capsule collection narrative stories, or global product release shows, or even to our own internal logistics supply chain development cycle,” Recht says about the evolution of Norlan’s products. Recht worked with Kaya Sorhaindo of La Folie for a year and a half and then another six months with Buxton until he “felt that it would be the right object experience to take what we imagine is the current view of Norlan—the world’s most badass glass design brand—and do what is not expected. What is not expected is to change track, bring out experiences that you can’t quantify, hold, touch… lift and fill.”
“It will hit an audience that is keen to experiment, try new things, layer the experiences,” he continues. “There is something about fragrance that is different from any other type of design—when people experience it, there is no way they can’t be affected by it. People can look at any product and feel indifferent, but you can’t do that with smell. You react. It is beyond your intellectual capacity, and deep down in your animal brain. Smell equals reaction. I love that you can do this with design, and it is perfect for the Norlan portfolio not just to give people what they expect, but remind them to expect to be surprised.”
All three scents—On the Dense Wet Edge of the Highlands, Below the Looming Sharp Rocks of Skye and Where the Coast Divides the Water and Sky on Islay—evoke wind and rain, the sea and the sky. They’re elegant, vegetal and alive. But perhaps the diffuser is the most interesting of all. A porous cube, its goal is to increase surface area for absorption and dispersion. All the while, its open body allows for passive bio-mimetic airflow. It, like the fragrances, gives the successful illusion of life.