Partners in crime – Carlos Quintero and Karl Bradl
Meet the “Renaissance” man!
Very spontaneously, I happen to meet virtually Mr. Carlos Quintero who is behind the Nomenclature New York. In this venture, he is not completely alone, he has a perfume guru, Karl Bradl behind. However, Carlos designed everything that concerns Nomenclature. Don’t worry, it’s not a shame if you still do not know Nomenclature. This is a molecular brand that is coming from NYC and it is under-radar. Completely irrational because the perfumes are extraordinarily good. You would expect less from molecules, but let it surprise you! This is an interview with Carlos Quintero who speaks about himself, Nomenclature and molecules. Please enjoy it and I want to thank Carlos for finding extra time to respond to this questions!
1. Since the perfume public is still unfamiliar with you, let’s start from basics. Can you please describe yourself, who is Carlos Quintero?
Carlos is a “Renaissance” designer that sees his work as a process that can be applied to any facet of life, be it fashion, graphics, furniture, packaging, digital, accessories, objects…I’ve been very lucky to work in Italy and New York for prestigious global fragrance, fashion and publishing companies. Thanks to that I’ve learned to see design thru an international lens. My passion is to find beautiful solutions to practical problems.
2. You are very creative person, which are considered to be unorganized. Do you have your daily routine or you just let it go spontaneously?
Dangerously spontaneous, I should say. I mean, in order to be productive and get things accomplished a minimum of organization is necessary. I try to divide my day in two: the things I “have” to do, and the ones I “like” to do. Designing and conceptualizing are the ones I like, when doing those I welcome chaos to my life. I read once that “playing is vital for creativity.” Children spend most of their days playing, but as they grow up leave behind that playfulness. Most creative individuals are curious and playful, just like children.
Nomenclature New York
3. What are your little passions and satisfactions in life? What makes you happy?
The sea makes me happy. I was born in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and even though I have spent most of my adulthood in urban environments, I’m always longing to be by the sea. I used to surf as a kid, and recently started again in NY. Surprisingly, NY has great surfing beaches just a subway ride away. It’s bizzare to see people carrying surfboards in the middle of the city, but I guess not more than in Munich.
4. You turned from advertising to perfumes. When did you discover your passion for perfumes?
I always had a passion for perfumes, even as a kid. I was perhaps the only boy wearing a fragrance in the classroom. I realized I could actually be part of the perfume industry when I moved to Milan, Italy, and started working as art director for a boutique ad agency that collaborated mainly with Italian perfumes. There I learned to design packaging and advertising for perfume brands like Gianfranco Ferré, Salvatore Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli. After that I left for New York to work in magazines, and met Karl Bradl from Aedes de Venustas. I believe we were destined to collaborate on Nomenclature. He’s one of the best perfume designer of our times. His sense of beauty and modernity is truly amazing.
5. From where the idea of molecular perfumes was born?
It wasn’t an eureka moment. Karl and I knew we wanted to create a line together, and we researched and brainstormed for months before arriving to the idea for Nomenclature. Originally we wanted to create a series of mono-note perfumes for layering. During research we learned the importance of synthetics as creative tools for perfumers. We were fascinated by “captive” molecules and modern perfumery. Molecular perfumes are not a new concept at all. Actually, modern perfumery as we know it, began more than a 100 years ago when perfumers started mixing natural ingredients with synthetic molecules. In spite of the fact that synthetics are widely used in perfumery, even in very high concentrations, no one was willing to disclose that information. Somehow along the way synthetics became a taboo in the industry.Fortunately, many pioneers paved the way for a line like Nomenclature, but they faced great resistance from the market. The real pioneer was the anti-establishment brand Comme the Garçons with its radical anti-perfume Series 6 Synthetic (2004, http://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Comme-des-Garcons/Comme-des-Garcons-Series-6-Synthetic-Dry-Clean-1237.html), where they declared war to natural ingredients. Then Escentric Molecules (2006) gain attention with it’s minimalistic approach, and became one of the most successful niche brands in the world thanks to their clever strategy of positioning molecules (in their case Iso E Super, which is actually not a molecule, but a compound) as mysterious, magical and pheromone ingredients. Until now, synthetic molecules had to be masked under marketing strategies and misinformation, or not mentioned at all. We wanted to help end that practice by creating Nomenclature, a line that celebrates design in perfume chemistry by showcasing the molecules that defined and changed modern perfumery. We “intend to unveil the other side of the picture and take apart a few clichés on perfume” ( from http://www.premiumbeautynews.com/en/how-do-we-talk-about-perfume-in,10452). Our approach is 100% design: in packaging, ingredients and compositions. We can proudly say we are the first to celebrate and bring light to perfume chemistry.
6. What are the molecules that are being used in Nomenclature perfumes? Are they coming from big groups like IFF, Firmenich, Givaudan?
We used molecules that were synthetized by some of these big groups, because to develop safe and beautiful molecules is a very expensive endeavor. Karl Bradl decided to select the molecules that changed Modern Perfumery. In iri_del we showcase Iris Aldehyde, made famous by the groundbreaking Chanel #5. Adr_ett’s star note is the sublimely creamy Helvetolide® musk, a captive developed by Firmenich. Harvesting natural musk is a very cruel process and it’s now illegal in most countries. That’s why synthetic musks are the crown jewel of modern perfumery. In efflor_esce we used Paradisone®, a gorgeous citrus-floral captive molecule, the latest addition to the Hedione family. Eau Sauvage was the first perfume to utilize Hedione, changing forever perfumery. Lastly, orb_ital features an overdose of Takasago’s version of the ubiquitous Iso E Super. This woody-ambery compound softens other materials, appeases tensions between musk, woody and floral notes, and makes perfume blends light as clouds. Since the early 1990’s it became the most used ingredient and “has shaped and define modern perfumery like hardly any other material.”
7. How much is your life easier when not dealing with natural raw materials which undergo special treatments and regulations? Are you completely free to make whatever you want in a perfume?
Nomenclature uses natural materials, but not as main notes. We inverted the traditional perfume structure where naturals are the star notes on the composition. On Nomenclature the main notes are synthetic, naturals are there as supporting actors. For example, instead of a Bulgarian Rose perfume, we do a Helvetolide® perfume. 100% synthetic perfumes are often flat. Naturals with their imperfections and rawness are vital in creating complex compositions. Think of naturals as reality, and synthetics as magic, and blended together they become “magical realism,” like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude.
8. What is a message that Nomenclature sends to the public?
Nomenclature celebrates design in perfume chemistry. These molecules or chemical creations are the essence of modern perfumery. Our message is that synthetics are good, and sometimes better than naturals. Synthetics are kinder to the environment because:
• they do not require to exploit and deplete scarce natural resources
• help prevent animal cruelty
• are more likely to be hypoallergenic
• create better performance fragrances
9. How did you manage that Iri_Del has so beautiful iris inside? It is said to be one of the most beautiful artificial iris scents.
That’s a difficult question to answer, since “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But I could say that Karl did a beautiful work creating a synthetic Iris where aldehydes are showcased in it’s full iridescent glory. Most Iris fragrances out there are heavy classics begging for attention. Iri_del is confident but modest, and that relies on its transparency to shine, not on the powdery sillage of traditional irises. Keep in mind that Karl created the award-winning Iris Nazarena for Aedes de Venustas, and for Nomenclature he went on a totally different direction: modern and transparent.
10. How difficult is to make a breakthrough in today’s market with a molecular brand?
Today’s market is quality driven. Thanks to the ascent of niche perfumery, consumers now are very sophisticated and experimental. They are coming to terms with the fact that synthetic molecules are the driving force in modern perfumery, and they are embracing it. It’s a great time for creative perfumery, and the future will be even more perfumed.
11. Is it possible to make a molecular candle too?
Totally. In fact there are many already on the market, they just don’t tell consumers that they’re made with synthetic molecules. Nomenclature is about innovation, and we are currently experimenting with new ways of diffusing fragrance. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to bring these to market.
12. Finally, what are your plans for the future with Nomenclature?
Nomenclature is a long term project. We want to inspire and educate on the beauty of designed molecules. We’ll be launching two ground-breaking fragrances next year. The first is called lumen_esce (Spring 2017), an electric violet fragrance. It’s main note is the captive molecule Violettyne (by Firmenich ). The second is still a secret. We are also working on a very exciting addition to the nomenclature line for 2018. Our ambition is to develop Nomenclature into an innovative and modern lifestyle brand.
Thank you a lot for this amazing interview!