The thrill of Formula 1 is beyond the adrenaline that comes from watching extreme supercars zip before you. The experience would be incomplete without the smell of burning rubber, wet asphalt, the thrill of the race, the cheering of the crowd, and champagne celebrations. Now the world’s most expensive sport is bottling that entire sensory experience in its debut perfume collection made by fragrance producers Symrise, Firmenich and Givaudan in collaboration with UK-based Designer Parfums, which was launched at the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2019 last December.
As F1 sits at th ecutting edge of design, engineering and technology, the idea was to introduce a world’s first by bringing out a bottle marking a design revolution in the conservative perfume sector. So internationally- renowned Welsh industrial designer Ross Lovegrove – who is inspired by nature and its evolutionary process and a major advocate of generative design and progressive technologies – was called in to create three high-tech, futuristic 3D-printed metal exoskeletons that wrap around a suspended glass flacon containing the fragrance.
Loving the challenge
A project that he worked on a daily basis for the best part of two years, the result is Fluid Symmetry, Agile Embrace and Compact Suspension – each in a limited and numbered edition of 20. Previously used for aircraft or spaceship parts or the high-end medical and dental industries rather than for commercial end products, 3D printing in metal has now been used for the first time in the universe of perfume. A showcase of what’s possible in 3D printing today and how beautiful it can be, the three variants are like nothing seen before as the technology to make them simply didn’t exist until now, and they can’t be manufactured by any other method.
“I’m very picky so I only make any kind of design if I feel it’s a challenge and I have the chance to make a different level of contribution to a particular sector. I could feel that there was something interesting here. I’m trying to marry technology and form in a really new way. As an industrial designer, you have to make a commitment to use the tools that are available to you in the time in which you live. You wouldn’t make a Formula 1 car in old materials and processes. I’m interested in things that can only be made today. If you look at my work, you couldn’t make it in the past. I’m a designer who’s always brought in to talk about what can be done with new technologies,” Lovegrove states.
“So to apply it in this case in a sort of haute couture diffusion-like principle, I have an opportunity to explore these principles at a very high level with the high-value pieces in metal. When I was at SpaceX, they have 3D printing machines that mix biological, biomorphic form with base principles of engineering. And when these two co-join, you get an aesthetic that is on one hand, incredibly emotional, but on the other hand, full of total scientific discipline,” he elaborates.
A complex and time-consuming process, each exoskeleton requires from 15 to 35 hours to print in metal. They are produced in Germany by Materialise, a provider of additive manufacturing software solutions and sophisticated 3D printing services in industries ranging from healthcare, automotive and aerospace to art, design and consumer products. Rather than a predictable appearance, Lovegrove opted for an aesthetic that’s at once state of the art and sophisticated, with designs connecting back to the high-performance F1 car and driver.
Referencing the wishbone-shaped cockpit protection halo cage surrounding the driver that has been divided and mirrored, Fluid Symmetry in 3D-printed blasted titanium is influenced by the car’s aerodynamics to generate a new 21st-century technological-biological design. In gold-plated, 3D-printed titanium, the feminine Agile Embrace bottle features solid, flowing lines that hug the inner core, echoing how a F1 car structure envelopes and shields the driver with anatomic precision, while Compact Suspension in 3D-printed stainless steel has been imagined as a multi-layered space frame with a powerful geometric motif.
Ellie Norman, F1’s Director of Marketing and Communications, explains the decision to launch a perfume to broaden the brand’s appeal: “In Formula 1, our focus is how do we grow the fan base and continue to diversify what is already a very global fan base. Part of that needs to be through how we explore different passion points. Fragrance is something that is so emotive, and smell is the most powerful for memory recall, so it made sense for us in such a visceral sport that we should explore how we could partner with the best in the world to create a fragrance inspired by the world of F1. Part of what we are doing within the sport is expanding much more into an entertainment and media brand driven by lifestyle, so this plays perfectly into that aspect.”
Customers may choose from a collection of five unisex haute parfumerie scents embodying the energy and excitement of F1. “The challenge for a global brand when you’re creating a fragrance is it’s very hard to find one fragrance that works in every country, so we tried to match the territories in which F1 has a strong fan base against the territories that do well in perfumery,” notes Parag Vidyarthi, Designer Parfums’ Managing Director.
He adds: “With five, we had a good mix where at least one would work well in every territory: Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America, and a global fragrance that would appeal everywhere but was more suited to Russia. Maybe someone doesn’t like all five fragrances, but everyone can find one or two that they would wear. We evaluated each fragrance for its own merit. It was almost a blind tasting. It was important for us to come up with the best products rather than work with a particular fragrance house or perfumer.”
Inspired by the courage of risk takers, Fragrance I by Louise Turner mixes long-lasting citrus freshness with spicy black pepper and pink peppercorn layered across exclusive Akigalawood set against a sensual background of leather, Indonesian patchouli and Ambroxan. Evoking burnt rubber, smoke, rain-soaked asphalt, a sense of competition and pure emotion, the intense, woody and leathery Fragrance II by Fabrice Pellegrin combines mandarin and bergamot with a salty accord and notes of geranium, green apple and ambergris amplified with the Styrax Vulcain captive.
The only fragrance in the collection made by two perfumers – Emilie Coppermann and Alexandra Carlin, the aromatic and spicy Fragrance III is built around cinnamon, iris, tonka bean, vetiver and guaiac wood with metal pepper de Laire base. Capturing the sweet smell of victory with a podium finish, Fragrance V by Pierre Guerros is based on a champagne accord representing a spray of bubbles. It opens with sparkling mandarin, bergamot and lemon electrified by the zing of Timut pepper and lavender, and contrasted by the powerful Ambrostar captive.
Rich and audacious, Fragrance IV by Aliénor Massenet marries the heat of black pepper and cardamom with the coolness of juniper berries. At its heart, intoxicating narcissus is balanced by soft, mineral orris, which smoothly transitions to a masculine base fusing Madagascan vetiver, leather and sandalwood boosted with Tonkalactone. “F1 is an extremely masculine and luxurious sport, but it was missing perfume, so I was super happy to create one for them,” Massenet says.
He continues: “My first idea was that I needed to use ingredients that had a very high impact, with a lot of power and testosterone, but then I thought why not use narcissus. It’s a rare and expensive flower that nobody has played with before and could be very masculine, so I put a lot of spice like pepper, sage, cardamom and cinnamon. There are dry notes and a kind of sweet, fruity coconut from the Tonkalactone, a captive that gives the wow, the vroom – like when the drivers start their engines. It’s a very fearless fragrance. When I created this fragrance, I was very focused, just like how the drivers need to be extremely focused and scared of nothing. For me, this fragrance is that emotion put inside a bottle.”
Made to order, each of the three luxury variants is priced at HK$77,500 (US$10,000) inclusive of local tax, with additional finishes to be created this year. Vidyarthi points out that buyers will subsequently be able to create their own customised resin bottle designs within set parameters because the nature of 3D printing allows for the creation in an efficient way of a single exoskeleton or small series as needed.
This story first appeared on PrestigeOnline.com/sg.