Fragrance maker Francis Kurkdjian on the twilight hours
The founder of perfume brand Maison Francis Kurkdjian describes how he finds inspiration in ‘the invisible part of creation’ while the city sleeps…
A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to escape the world, to be inspired, reflect and create. Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
I am an early bird and a late sleeper. I love staring at the sunrise and the darkness of the night. There is nothing more inspiring than that to me. The promise of the new day, with the hope and the magic of it. The idea that a day has gone, that it will never come back again. The feeling of living a special moment that will no longer exist anymore, forever. It is a special feeling, where there is a little sadness because of the past, the lost hope and excitement as today becomes tomorrow. I love this paradox of life.
Is it important to you to have somewhere to escape from the hustle and bustle of life?
I can be alone in the crowd since the world of perfume is a silent world. But I am a city dweller, a citizen of the world. I do up to four rounds of the globe each year for my work. I love the loneliness during long flights for example. But I love the energy of my life in Paris. I am not inspired by nature. I need the presence of people and humans around me. I love all that. However, I also need some time off to gather my inspiration. I then stay at home, I read, watch films, or I cook a lot, for my friends.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working?
I do not listen to music when I work. It distracts me too much. I like working in a very quiet, calm and rather dark environment, with no sounds around. It helps me concentrate on my work and my perfumes. This is why I like early mornings and late nights.
What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?
Perfection does not exist. It’s a perpetual quest if you want to master your life. The only element you need is you as an element, as a working, in progress human being. The rest to me is superficial.
Is it private to you or do you let other people experience it?
I like being alone. It helps me to reconnect with who I am deeply, with no artifice.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Never think you are satisfied, never think you are done.
Is reflection important to your work?
Of course. My work tool is not my nose but my brain, as any other human being, any other artist who expresses himself! The creation of a perfume is made in two stages. First, there is the time of reflection during which I think, imagine different fragrance accords in my mind. When I think I have a very clear idea of what to do, where to go with my emotions, I then begin the time of composition and go to the lab to create the formula. My approach to creation is more or less always the same. Inspiration is the invisible part of creation.