An Alchemy Of Subtle Frequencies

Rain and soft shadows match the mineral optics of Paris architecture. Misted and grisaille, pierced by hues of pale roses. Ferragus, a new scent developed by Arpa Studios, builds its petrichor-rich substance on cycles of decomposition and recomposition. This perfume happens; it is discovered. One cannot plot the outcomes of molecules in motion, just as concepts do not always follow logic. Often, illogic is the truer composer.

Inspired by transgressive figures of Ferragus, a fictional character first introduced in a 1833 novel by Honoré de Balzac, and Madame de Brinvilliers, a scandalising aristocrat accused of murder and fraud in Louis XIV France, the project addresses the decadence of Old European social structures and the urge of social deconstruction achieved through alchemy and poison, drugs and medicine cultivated in the pre- and early-modern times.

The sculptural forms of the diffusers result from a deconstructive reading of French and Viennese historical architecture, including the notorious palace of Versailles, which, for the studio, constitutes a material representation of social stratification. The resulting shapes, “active negatives” of the interior spaces they depict, are translated into a new, unexpected materiality.

For a sequence of digital tunnelings, we used 3D-modeling techniques to merge, iterate and morph antiquarian French and Viennese architectural plans, motifs, maps and alchemical glassware into new silhouettes. Distant from their referents, the new forms lay the foundations of a novel-form alphabet that migrates and transforms its source material. Printed in translucent biodegradable thermoplastics, the scent-bearing sculptures are subsequently zinc-metalized and polished using a technique singular to Marcin Rusak Studio. Guided by the unknown, the abstract, organic shapes evoke a delicacy of some rococo future.

Unauthorized rebellion against decency, uprising from dusts of urban fantasy.

As a sum of layered phenomena, Ferragus is born of a spontaneous sensory reaction: one that can only emerge in the presence of particular atmospherics. Of the ricochet of gray walls and skies in rainy Paris, whose monochromes are interrupted, on occasion, by transgressions of technicolor flora. Betrayal of order becomes the intended use of the scent. Encapsulated within, it is partially revealed through semi-transluscent packaging that forms an integral part of the design.

Launched in Vienna in the legendary Retti Candle Store designed  in 1965–66 by Hans Hollein, the Ferragus project is complemented by an additional site-responsive sculpture that provokes dialogue with the notable Austrian architect’s space-age material palette featuring polished and anodized aluminum.

The intimate, boudoir-like interior adds a space-age feel to the capital of an ancient empire. Exposed within, Rusak’s zinc-covered objects play with the historical and material context of the place, adding a new layer of meaning to the history of curiosity and pleasure.