Perfumer and visual artist Andrea Maack
Visual artist Andrea Maack is a native Icelander from Reykjavik, where she is still currently based. Andrea graduated from the Icelandic Art Academy with a degree in fine arts and in 2011 the founded her own perfume brand, Andrea Maack. Her collection of unisex fragrances has been developed with an artistic approach, only using the highest quality of raw materials.
Several international magazines, such as French Vogue, Elle, W Magazine, Highsnobiety and more, have recognized the Andrea Maack Collection.
We’ve had the pleasure to chat to Andrea.
Can you tell us about your background as a visual artist?
I studied art in Iceland and graduated with a BA in fine art in 2005. My gallery shows and museum exhibitions are usually installations with a reference to fashion and beauty. I have worked in many mediums throughout my career, usually the process starts at the drawing board with sketches and ideas and form there they can become sculptures, drawings, fragrance, mood, installations or video, depending on where my head is.
How did you come up with the idea of making perfume?
Through art. I was working on a series of exhibitions where the theme was “the ultimate” being. The first show in that series was a set of dumbbell sculptures and drawings of the brain so for the second part I thought I would attempt to create the ultimate scent for this “being”. I started researching the world of scents and premiered the first one I ever made titled SMART (Smell Art) for the Reykjavík Art Festival in 2008, and the rest is history!
How would you describe your fragrances?
I would like the wearer to have their own opinion on each scents and don´t say too much about them, but basically, they are luxury fragrances made from the highest quality raw materials, born through an artistic process. For me they all have a very personal story and meaning but I don´t want that to reflect too much on how each person interprets the scents, sometimes I wish I could smell them for the first time to know what I would think!
You explain that they hint at a character rather than a gender. Could you please explain this further?
They are all unisex and because they come from an unusual process I never gentrified them, they are more mood than gender. Usually the mainstream scents are for either men or women I never even thought about that when making them, it just seemed irrelevant to me at the time if they would be worn by men or women. So, what I´m trying to say is that what you choose to wear as a scent can show who you are as a character rather than gender.
What inspires the fragrances?
They all have a long-complicated story that I try to summarize in the descriptions. The first ones were inspired by my art only and from there I got to learn more about raw ingredients so naturally I would have more of an opinion on that. The recent ones are inspired by Iceland, when I moved back from Milan a couple of years back I saw the country with fresh eyes and wanted to work with my heritage and country as a starting point of purity.
Who is your “typical” customer?
Someone who thinks about a story and quality when purchasing scents. We retail in quite a few concept stores so it´s also the fashion conscious and we have many artists as very loyal customers, but it´s really anyone who is looking for a scent that relates to them in a personal way.
Can you briefly explain the process of perfume making?
My process is very different from the typical way to create a scent, I have developed a method on how to work with the perfumers I have worked with since I started. I usually like to start with images /mood only and from there together we develop the first ideas, a complete scent can take up to 2-3 years to make and some of them have over 30 versions, I think I have about 200 in my archives…
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Starting a brand from scratch with only an idea on a paper from my studio in Iceland is an achievement to me. This is a cut-throat business and not a lot of brands make it, I think because I´ve always had quite a relaxed attitude towards the project and just made things I like has really helped it´s success. I´m proud to be a luxury beauty brand from Iceland, we are not that many at all, and I´m the only fragrance one. I´m also very proud of all my shows and the collaborations with other artist, designers, photographers and perfumers throughout the years, it´s very difficult to choose.
What’s the dream?
Now, I have an idea I´m working on, a sort of a compound situation in Iceland. My dream is to go big or go home and create something here that will stand the test of time and break the boundaries of what we as a small nation think we are capable of.
Can you give us your best Icelandic tips on what to see and do when visiting?
I would go West, it´s so beautiful and magical there particularly in Djúpavík. Iceland is packed with tourists right now and they all go to the usual suspect (the south circle), if I was coming here I would not want to be in a large group. My friends and co-workers that visit us in Iceland usually have some sort of an emotional, spiritual journey when they come here. To be in the solitude and the magnificent nature can bring something out in people and dig deep into their emotions, that’s the best and most profound thing about coming here, not taking a selfie at the biggest waterfalls :)