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Designer Q&A: Olivia Putman

Designer Olivia Putman took the reins of her mother Andrée’s legendary studio in 2007. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the launch of Andrée’s first fragrance, Studio Putman presents Préparation Parfumée: a collection of six fragrances that embody the same sense of incomparable style that made her an iconic figure in the design and fashion worlds. We talk to Olivia about the collection and her family’s relationship with perfumery.


What are your earliest memories of scents, and what fragrant flashbacks do they evoke?

I still remember that I was able as a young girl to guess my mother was coming home only by the scent of the house. In my family, we are have a very strong and passionate relationship to scents and perfume. Perfumes are a piece of who you are; they are the closest touch on your body, much more than clothes. They leave a trace when someone enters a room, can empower you and make you feel different everyday. Perfumes also leave a memory trace in your mind; when you smell something, you recall special or bad moments, the smell of the people you love as the one of your mother or your boyfriend. For me, it’s like having a little photo album in your head that is made of scents.


Olivia Putman | Image courtesy of Nina Ricci Parfums

Olivia Putman | Image courtesy of Nina Ricci Parfums


What does your brand stand for; what are its values?

My mother imagined an alphabet to “speak” in our own words. For more than thirty years, the Studio, established by Andrée, has encouraged a singular approach, a way of defining new stakes, an original way to understand objects and spaces, their meaning and their use. Design is successful when you have the right answer for the purpose. Beauty is beyond the practical character of objects and spaces. It is a question of balance and mental peace. Lately, I was thinking that the “Putman style” is a link between a high dose of nostalgia and a futuristic vision.


Where do you find inspiration for your work?       

I am very open minded and I think that in order to create you have to look and listen to everything in order to feed you; even a trip in the subway can give you new ideas. Nature, ancient art and contemporary creations...listening to my children. I am very open to new ideas, new concepts. I try to keep eyes and ears wide open.


Can you talk us through the creation of a fragrance - from initial concept to realization?       

I wanted to create something that lets people experience my emotions and memories of my mother; a voyage into her soul and our life together seen through my eyes. The collection itself represents a concept that I call ‘invisible design’, with the vintage appeal of the flacon, the bright blue pantone (the colour that symbolizes all Putman’s creations) and the minimal and clean packaging. I wanted to express the identity of Studio Putman’s style, and I strongly consider scents as impalpable creations that are constructed with ingredients and notes much more than physical components, and so they’re not to be considered as pieces of design, but ‘invisible design’.


Andrée Putman | Image courtesy of The Putman

Andrée Putman | Image courtesy of The Putman


Who are your fragrances designed for?

L’Original is the first composition that was created by my mother with famous perfumer, Olivia Giacobetti. It is a unisex perfume. Magnolys is dedicated to the magnolia, my mother’s favourite flower. Formidable is a very energising fragrance dedicated to my father. Tan d’Epices is a fun word implying sunbathing in spices. Figue en Fleur goes back to the scent of fig in Provence, and the last scent is Un Peu d’Amour, a joyful wish for happiness with tenderness with the warmest notes. Anyone who is looking for a strong, charming and unconventional fragrance will be pleased by this collection.


Across interior and product design, Andrée Putman’s work eschews traditional classifications. How important is the idea of utilitarian design, creating ‘something for everyone’?

When designing the right object for a purpose you reach one of my aims: a timeless style. I like the idea of designing objects that will suit an old woman in Tokyo as well as a teenager in Roma.


What fragrance do you wear and why?

My everyday perfume is L' Air du Temps by Nina Ricci. In the summertime, I like a light jasmin water. When I dance, I like hot spices perfume as Opium by Yves Saint Laurent.


What should be our main considerations when choosing a fragrance?

To suit your soul.


Explore The Conran Shop's collection of perfumes and fragrances online and in store.