MAD et LEN is a boundaryless creative project constantly involved in rediscovering the luxury of artisanal processes as perfume making and metal crafting. By using entirely organic and highly selected products, the French based brand has been able to establish a niche in the perfumery field, and it’s currently developing itself towards the furniture and object design. Becoming major in creating a warm and somewhat mysterious atmosphere in people’s places, MAD et LEN’s products approached the costumers’ lives in a subtle, olfactive, way; while with the furnitures they thirll the tactile sense through pieces that clearly showcases the rough yet sophisticated beauty of blacksmithing. We met Aurelie Pinéau during the last MAISON et OBJET in Paris for an interesting exchange of thought concerning the company’s identity and its future developements.
Since almost six years MAD et LEN offers a range of refined and exclusive scents, candles and oils. How and when you decided to look towards the art of perfumery?During several stays in Asia, travelling across Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thaïland, Sandra and Alex have discovered how much flowers, wood, spices etc… are an inexhaustible and various source of experimentation. Indeed, nature offers products that we can transform as much as we like, even if of course there are some constraints. When they came back to France in 2007, they decided to create limitless fragrances brut and noble such as you can find them in the nature.
You are based in the South of France, around Grasse’s area, which showcases a rich and long history in perfume making and processing. In which ways does the place’s artisanal heritage imbues your creations?
Our atelier is based in the Verdon in a tiny village between lakes and Mountains, not far from Grasse indeed. We do our best to bring back the art of the traditional French apothecary perfume makers’ tradition which has long been forgotten. We want that each drop of our fragrances tells a story: the story of those men and women who have brought this ancestral savoir faire through centuries. It is about the revival of the deep soul of French craftsmanship perfumery…
“MAD et LEN”, your brand’s name clearly plays on the Proustian madleine. Do you believe in a sort of olfactive memory that makes the scents able to evoke stories from the past as the soft and shell shaped sweet does in Proust’s masterpiece ?
Yes we do, It is a basic natural univeral law, isn’t it? Taste, scent, flavour around certain circumstances remind to everyone something very special from the past. Marcel Proust explained that the touch, the sight and the smell are waking up our sensory memory…“A la recherche du temps perdu”.
One of the main features of your products is an incredible likeness with the actual smell of flowers, wood or spices, as if through your scents, oil and candles you enhanced the pure smell of fragrant ingredients. Can you briefly explain which method do you follow to obtain this unique result?
Each perfume created by MAD et LEN in our private atelier and formulated by our “biologists” is seen as a real master piece. We select the finest raw and primary materials. Mainly pure essential oil is used to not alter the spirit of the scent. We keep the core of the essence that we refine. Therefore we closely follow all the process of maturation of our essential oil in order to let the original elements from flower, wood and spice get their maturity. Imagine that MAD et LEN’s Patchouli essential oil reaches the right maturation only after 2 years…
Our raw materials come from the fields, we need to have it at their best quality, so we accept that we can not work on all products at any the time, that is the reason why we check with our collaborators and producer when and which products will be collected.
By living in big and polluted cities we are often led to breathe impure air, and thus poison the body, affecting also our state of mind. Do you think that organic and natural perfumes as yours kind can restore and please both lungs and smelling faculty, positively affecting also our mood?
We do not have such an high pretention! But, indeed, we really want to maintain an ideal balance between quality and our environmental ethics; then we have to respect the natural cycles of seasons. This means that paradoxally all the flowers, plants, woods and spices used for our distillations may not be availables the moment we need them. All our fragrance are paraben, silicon and preservative free, as well as not tested on the animals obviously. But we would be very pleased and proud to see that our fragrances allow some of our customers to feel, even for just one moment, the calm, the serenity and the soothing of nature.
Each of your products comes with a very special packaging, like the candles’ iron casings. Does this reflects the attention payed to the research of elements and crafting process of the fragrances contained within?
Exactly. For our black metal cases we work with a very old process as well: the manual pannel beating, which consist hand-shaping the iron with an hammer.
This manual technic makes us able give to the material any form we wish, according to the dexterity of the blacksmith master himself. It takes almost half an hour for a skilled blacksmith to produce only one piece. Each casing is made of cold laminated iron, shaped and then burned to give the black finish to which we add some encaustic painting to fix it, avoiding rust.
By delighting our sense of smell, perfumes flavor our bodies and lives as well as the places where we spend our time and existence. You recently developed some furniture and design pieces, how is this related to your original project?
It is important for us to not be labeled just as “perfumers”, we really appreciate to be considered as “performers”, since MAD et LEN is not a concept with creative boundaries.
The furnitures come from the exactly same state of mind that conceived the scents and candles. Whatever we plan to design and produce in the future it will always be coherent since we will be using artisanal knowledges as well as finest primary materials. We just keep on going on in writing the story we started in 2007, continuing to find satisfaction in creation…
Looking at the future, MAD et LEN seems destined to grow, crossing different fields. In which ways your aesthetic principles will be preserved through this new expansion?
We want to continue to stay far away from a mass consumerism, we have to stay true to ourselves, we have to stay true to our own vision of luxury. Even if encountering an increasing demand, we will continue to produce limitless limited-series, with no intention to automate certain operations, or to use any synthetic components.
MAD et LEN is the result of a team of people who come from various universe and backgrounds, brought together with their own expertise and passion for a common goal : to offer modern, high quality and thrilling products.