For Ginori 1735’s new ‘LCDC’ (La Compagnia di Caterina) home fragrance collection, the Stockholm-based Italian designer Luca Nichetto has aimed to satisfy many of the senses. He’s addressed the visual, in terms of the look and feel of the vessel, as well as the atmospheric light it imbues. The olfactory satisfaction comes from three seductive scents created by France’s oldest perfume house, Jean Niel. Finally, the sense of touch is excited by the artistic temerity of fashioning a three-dimensional collection of candles, incense burners and a candle snuffer into collectible objets d’art.
‘When I design, I like the storytelling to be honest and true,’ Luca enthuses of the narrative he crafted around the extraordinary life of 16th-century Italian noblewoman Caterina de’ Medici (Catherine de’Medici) and the historical origins of perfume-making.
The collection is a first for Ginori 1735, the three-centuries-old manufacturer, whose past artistic directors have included Gio Ponti and Giovanni Gariboldi, with more recent collaborations incorporating tableware designed with Luke Edward Hall and Off-White founder, the late Virgil Abloh.
So here, Luca has woven a tale of three cities: Florence, where Caterina was born (and also the site of the Marquis Carlo Andrea Ginori’s first porcelain factory, founded in 1735); Paris, where she was sent to marry the Duke of Orléans, Henry II, soon becoming the Queen of France and bringing the tradition of perfume with her; and Venice, the designer’s own hometown, which, many argue, was where fragrance really began in the 1400s, as the floating city sat at the epicentre of the world’s trading routes for exotic woods, resins and spices.
In this mix, he has conjured up a set of seven characters who might have formed part of Caterina’s royal court as she ventured from her Tuscan home to Paris. From the elegantly refined face of ‘La Dama’ (The Lady) to the bust-like scenting totem of ‘Il Letterato’ (The Scholar) and the incense-burning ‘Il Frate’ (The Friar), for each one Luca drew not only on Ginori 1735’s archive of figurative forms, but also on references to lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) masks, the post-modernist illustrations of French creative polymath Jean-Paul Goude and the colourful intensity of graffiti art.
‘Sketching all of these kinds of people, I suddenly thought, “Wow, this looks like Game of Thrones,”’ he laughs (recalling the Hall of Faces scene depicted in the fantasy television drama’s fifth season).
Not showing the entire face of each character – cutting off the eyes of the Scholar or the mouth of the Companion, for example – also lent another layer of intrigue to the collection. ‘I wanted each character to feel familiar without having to know the real identity behind each face,’ says the designer, whose career CV includes working with prestigious brands such as Foscarini, Byredo and Hermès.
While the floral notes found among the Tuscan countryside inspired the collection’s three scents – the airy bergamot, honey and cypress notes of ‘Orange Renaissance’, the citrusy violet and white wood undertones of ‘Purple Hill’, and the seductively heady nutmeg muskiness of ‘Black Stone’ – they also informed Luca’s choice of colour palette.
Rich glossy tones of teal, ochre, lavender, midnight black and pristine white have been applied with a traditional but complicated crystalline glaze technique that Ginori resurrected especially for this project, while each piece is also hand-rimmed with gold, another of the manufacturer’s signature finishing touches.
Refills are available for most of the pieces, ensuring their longevity long after the first candle or batch of incense has burned down. ‘When you buy a piece of Ginori 1735, you buy a piece of history in Italian design and craftsmanship, so you should be able to use it for a long time,’ Luca says. But mostly, he hopes people will enjoy the light-hearted spirit of fun he has ingrained into the collection. ‘Especially in the time we are living now, it’s very important to be surrounded by objects that make us smile.’ From £165, ginori1735.com