All of Franfan20
Moments in time - An Interview with Carlos Huber
Carlos Huber is the founder and creative director of Arquiste, one of the younger niche brands on the fragrance market. Huber, who studied architecture, incorporates aspects of his two passions - architecture and history - into his perfume creations. An olfactory caption of certain moments in time, put in a bottle and constructed like a building.
Your biography offers a lot of different professions and skills. Did you already have a certain profession in mind for yourself when you were young?
Actually yes, I always had that love for architecture and history in me, so I knew early on that I wanted to do something related to these topics.
Speaking of your background in architecture, is there any specific kind of german building that you like or do you have any favorite place over here?
Although I’m not an expert in German architecture and It may not be the most beautiful building in the world, I really like Schinkel’s Bauakademie in Berlin. I was very excited to see it when I first visited, because I had studied it a lot in Architecture school. I do think that German architecture is some of the best in the world, so there’s a lot of beautiful places over there. I found Hamburg to be a very beautiful city too! I hope I can travel more through Germany in the near future.
Your fragrance brand Arquiste is in the game for 4 years now and receives a lot of positive response. Did you feel welcome in the industry instantly? How would you describe your journey in a few words?
Of course there were ups and downs, but I was fortunate enough to start my brand in New York and had lots of support in the early stages already. I was able to get in touch with magazines and other media outlets, stores and retailers (nationally and internationally) as well as the house of Givaudan. It helped putting Arquiste out there and getting recognized relatively quick. The theme of my brand is very special to me and is part of my authenticity. But one thing you need to learn is to stay calm and be patient because growth needs time and if you want to put the best product out there, you need to work accordingly to be able to do this. It’s an on-going process and I’m constantly learning.
Social Media nowadays is a very important part of everyday life in general. Also a lot of fragrance brands use it for marketing and display of new products. Would you say that the ability to give people regular insight in your work makes it easier for a brand like Arquiste to get recognized and increase its popularity, especially in the beginning?
Definitely yes. It supports me in showing that perfumery to me is a passion that I put my heart and soul into. People are able to recognize that there are actually real people behind a brand that have a certain devotion to something and that it’s a full-time job. So my intention with Social Media is to get people’s attention to the whole crafting process as well. There are of course positive and negative sides that come along with it. It’s always nice to hear feedback on your creations, but critics can tear you apart as well. I read feedback on my brand because I think the interaction with my followers is important as well. I’m paying attention and read it frequently, also to give something back to my customers. But if somebody is criticizing something just for the sake of bashing, I think it’s better to say nothing at all.
You mentioned that Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier became close friends of yours and that you learned a lot about perfumery from them. I assume your friendship influences your creation process differently compared to working with random people. Would you say it’s always harmonic working with your friends or do you have disagreements on scents sometimes?
What’s kind of special about our work is that we became friends first and then decided to work together, so we work together because we are friends. Of course you have to be more sensitive then and evaluate things more carefully at times, but as with every creative process of course there are disagreements sometimes, but never arguments. Rodrigo and Yann know very well what they are doing and with Givaudan we are able to use the best ingredients we can get, so I profit from their experience quite well. I’m a developer and creative director, so I know a lot about marketing and setting a brand up. I may talk to different people than Rodrigo and Yann would, so I can give them feedback from other perspectives of the market they may not get to hear. What’s also important for my collaboration with them is that they understand me perfectly. I usually have a certain vision in mind for a scent and I wouldn’t work with people that I feel no connection to and therefore wouldn’t be able to transfer my vision into a scent.
You also started creating scents specifically for other outlets like J. Crew and most recently El Palacio de Hierro. How did it came about? Was there any approach for them to be significantly different to Arquiste’s concept?
Wth these releases I can work on something slightly different than Arquiste. The Arquiste collection is very consistent in it’s approach of each scent evoking a specific time and place. Each scent is a story that comes from the heart and is faithfully researched and the scents must communicate every detail of it. This makes the scents more complex. With collaboration such as J. Crew, El Palacio de Hierro or St. Regis hotels we can work on concepts that are slightly different, always transmitting a little bit of the ‘storytelling’ aspect of Arquiste, but in this case, telling a story that relates to the specific brand that we are collaborating with. We can also work on reaching another type of customer, another market. The J. Crew and El Palacio de Hierro fragrances have different styles than Arquiste. For example with the ones for El Palacio de Hierro, which are basically soliflores, we went into a direction that emphasized very natural accords, with a very fresh and light feel, more on the Eau de Cologne side. They are cheerful, lovely scents, which doesn’t mean they lack in elegance. They are just a lighter, more accessible and splashy type of collection.
Did you ever think about creating a fragrance totally on your own?
I’m a nose and a fragrance developer, but not a perfumer. I don’t have the formal, professional training and diploma that a perfumer has to go through. However, I have studied the craft a bit and have experience as a developer, which is an integral partner in creating a perfume. I don't feel the need to make a perfume by myself because I respect the talent and real expertise the perfumer brings to the table. He/She is the one working on the formula… as a developer, I’m the one that comes up with the concept, and that ultimately evaluates and directs the process. So it’s a collaborative creative process, we can’t pretend to cover everyone’s role, and I would never be that presumptuous.
What other fragrances do you wear? Any specific scent or brand you like?
Of course I wear other scents, too. I like Sycomore from Chanel very much for example and I also have a fragrance collection, so I wear different scents here and there, but mostly my own. It’s actually not that easy because I constantly need to evaluate and market a brand. People should realize that I don’t throw scents on the market just because I can and see where it leads and if it’s not successful, I just let it go. I truly believe in my work, so not wearing my brand is no option and wouldn’t be authentic at all.
Apart from your fragrances your style of fashion is also well-received. You manage to look perfectly fine always, especially now that you decided to change your looks a few times. Do you do it all by yourself?
Oh well, yes I do it all by myself. For me it is less about fashion itself, I put my emphasis on style. I just wear what I think works best for me and I think I know what I’m doing. Of course I feel flattered by such compliments, but I wouldn’t consider myself a kind of fashion icon. Sometimes the world is a bit too obsessed with image and the need of being perfect.
Can you think of any other goals or things you’d like to achieve either this year or in the near future personally or professionally?
I would like to establish Arquiste as a brand even further and make it grow. I want to have own Arquiste stores in the near future, so the history and architecture concept can also be displayed in a place visually. I would like to keep this concept which is very close to my heart and be able to keep the quality of my products. I just wish that my brand is recognized as something real and long-lasting.