Andrea Maack

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Visual artist Andrea Maack has been running a brand for avant-garde perfumes based on her own drawings, ideas and exhibition concepts since 2009. Her first three fragrances were... Read more
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Visual artist Andrea Maack has been running a brand for avant-garde perfumes based on her own drawings, ideas and exhibition concepts since 2009. Her first three fragrances were not originally intended to be worn, but as a medium for her art and additional content layer of installations within her exhibitions.

Andrea Maack was born in Reykjavik in 1977; if you ask her about her earliest childhood memory, she says: "the smell of the sea and the snow on the Icelandic coast." By its smell, she could tell snow from running water, although most would say water is odorless. And her very first perfume memory? "Probably Cristalle by Chanel. When I was little, we didn't have a distinct perfume culture in Iceland, but I remember Cristalle was a scent that could transport me to Paris in my imagination - to a life as I imagined it then."

In her early 20s, she moved to London for a few years, where she worked as a buyer for fashion and jewelry companies. She was passionate about fashion and styling, and had even enrolled in a fashion design degree program. However, she then decided to go back to Iceland and started studying art in Reykjavik in 2002. However, not wanting to miss fashion, she also opened a small alternative boutique called "Lakkrisbudin" ("Liquorice Shop") that same year, introducing young designers who were unknown in Iceland at the time, such as Henrik Vibskov, Peter Jensen, Emma Cook and Yazbukey. She ran the business until 2005, the same year she graduated from the Academy of Arts.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree, Andrea Maack worked in a museum run by artists themselves (The Living Art Museum), organized festivals in Iceland (Sequences Real Time Art Festival) and participated in exhibitions. In 2007, for example, she created art objects under the title WOART or "work out art" ("training art"), in which she processed the solid surface material HI-MACS by hand and with the help of machines to create sculptures in the form of dumbbells with deliberately false weight markings. These "training objects" were complemented by a pencil drawing on which the brain was depicted as a "mental muscle".

The graphic works of Andrea Maack have a high recognition value. They consist of monochromatic or colored lines or strokes, each arranged radially from a center until they form a design element. By repeating the initial motif, an area is gradually filled in. The edges are not frayed, but converge again to form a line. Through the different lines, through condensations and overlays, an organic and three-dimensional pulsating rhythm is created. What was originally intended to represent actual muscle tissue became abstract over time and stood on its own.

In 2008 Andrea Maack got the chance to present her first solo exhibition in a gallery. Independently of this, it was also at this time that she first thought about creating a fragrance. At that time she didn't see any connection between her drawings and her fragrance idea, and so didn't plan to show a fragrance at the planned exhibition. To further explore this direction for herself, she ordered a perfume construction kit from the Internet and began to train her nose and write down her own formulas. In parallel, she also inquired with perfumers and contacted Le Labo, among others.

Once the concept for the show was in place, perfume and cosmetics brand consultant Renaud Coutaudier ("He's a true visionary when it comes to perfume. No idea is too crazy for him. I like that attitude.") made contact with a young perfumer: Marion Fabre. It should be noted, however, that Andrea Maack keeps a very low profile about the "noses" behind her perfumes. Officially, for years, there was only talk of "young, up-and-coming perfumers from Grasse," and later, at least, of a "female nose." To this day, the only mention of Marion Fabre in connection with Andrea Maack's first three perfumes can only be found on Renaud Coutaudier's Discerning Perfumes & Cosmetics page, where the brand concept he implemented for Andrea Maack is presented.

The only specification for the perfumer was the concept for the planned exhibition and a drawing that Andrea Maack sent her by mail. For her part, the perfumer was to send back to the artist only one variation of the perfume. The fragrance was supposed to interpret the drawing olfactorally and Andrea Maack, if all this is true, is said to have received the fragrance only one day before the exhibition and to have found her concept in it: the perfume smelled "white" to her, just like the minimalist white exhibition space.

The exhibition was given the title SMART or "smell art". The original drawing that had served as a template for the fragrance (black lines on a white background) was greatly enlarged, cut into 252 "tester strips" and hung "assembled" again. Each tester strip was signed, numbered and could be taken off the wall individually. The respective test strips - and, if desired, the forearms of the visitors - were personally sprayed with the scent by the artist. In this way, everyone could take a part of the artwork home with them, and the painting dissolved over time. The fragrance for the exhibition was extremely well received by visitors, but it was not available for purchase - there were only four flacons of it in total.

In her next project, entitled CRAFT or "couture art," Andrea Maack again experimented with the theme of "wearable art." This time, a dress was constructed out of paper for an exhibition in a total of 200 working hours. To do this, the artist made a huge drawing in pencil on thin, white pattern paper, which was then assembled into an origami-look dress based on a design by designer Cédric Rivrain (who worked for Dior, among others). A fragrance was also developed for this exhibition, following the same principle as for SMART. The fragrance was used as a room spray and distributed as a sample.

In May 2009 Andrea Maack realized a similar project with SHARP or "shape art" at the Arnhem Mode Biennale in Holland. Again a dress was shown. The artist speaks of having cut it in "foam", but the pictures for the exhibition show a white dress very similar in style, made of firmer fabric, into which the pattern was "engraved". The pattern for the scent for the exhibition was a colored drawing, and the scent this time was also colored. This time, sprayed tester strips (not cut-up drawings) were scattered on the floor to scent the room.

After these three public successes, Andrea Maack founded her perfume brand in 2009 and presented the trio "Smart", "Craft" and "Sharp" in August 2010 as part of an exhibition entitled "Eau de Parfum". The design of the bottles and packaging was purist and picked up on elements of the interior design of the exhibition space (the stucco moldings were found stylized as embossing on the cardboard; the interior designer Ingibjorg Agnes Jonsdottir, who had designed the exhibition space, was also responsible for the packaging design). For the flaky lids, as in 2007 for the WOART dumbbells, HI-MACS was used again, which is why they feel cool and "like real stone" (the material consists of about one-third acrylic resin (polymethyl methacrylate) and 5% natural pigments; the main ingredient, 70%, is the natural mineral aluminum hydroxide, extracted from bauxite (aluminum ore)).

In 2009 and 2010, Andrea Maack received government art grants and a grant from the Aurora Design Foundation (aimed at Icelandic designers and architects). In 2011, the brand signed a contract with niche perfume and cosmetics distributor Intertrade Europe, and production was moved to Italy. Since 2011, Andrea Maack's partner Gisli Sverrisson has also worked for the brand (as managing director since 2012).

In 2011, the perfumes "Silk" and "Dark" were launched (created by Julien Rasquinet, student of top nose Pierre Bourdon). From now on, the fragrances were explicitly commissioned as perfumes. Unlike the first three fragrances, the perfume names are not "abbreviations" but are to be understood literally. The marketing for "Silk" reads, "Silk exudes the feeling of a delicate fabric that touches the skin. The inspiration for this fragrance comes from hand-painted textile prints, and the composition pays homage to French fashion houses with a long tradition of making silk scarves." In an interview with a Russian magazine, Andrea Maack says the movie "Rosemary's Baby" was the inspiration for "Silk" ("I imagined how the perfumed pendant might smell, which was given to the main character."). "Dark" was conceived as a seductive fragrance, but one does not learn exactly what drawing it is based on.

In 2012, the 6th fragrance, "Coal," was released, which is based on a charcoal drawing. The perfumer is Richard Ibanez and it is said to have taken the longest to develop of all the previous fragrances: "I really wanted to capture the mineral feel of coal." At the latest, Andrea Maack is more intensely involved in the process of creating her perfumes, "I'm definitely more involved. I think it's a natural evolution. In the beginning I didn't know much about perfume development, but now I'm learning. I know what I like and what I'm looking for to add to my drawing. I'm probably the only one who can see the drawing in the perfume. That's why I like to develop the fragrance together with the perfumer until I'm happy with the result." Although Andrea Maack considers all of her perfumes to be unisex, she finds "Coal" to be the most masculine. In her opinion, which designer would a man wear if he wore "Coal"? "I would say Damir Doma, Rick Owens or Lanvin."

In 2013, "Coven" (perfumer currently unknown) was released as the 7th fragrance, with Andrea Maack citing horror films and a collection by Hedi Slimane for Yves Saint Laurent as inspiration. The development of the perfume this time is said to have taken a whole year. She wanted to create a fragrance for city dwellers that would transport them to nature, to a fairytale forest, with two sprays. She also finds the fragrance quite erotic because of the whiskey note it contains.

Andrea Maack wears her perfumes herself; if she had to choose one, it would be "Craft," with which she associates the particularly elaborate process of creating the associated exhibition object. Her own perfume taste has been influenced by the fragrances of Comme des Garçons and Balenciaga, among others.

Andrea Maack currently lives in Milan.
Research and text by BlumenblutBlumenblut