The Garden of Wonders @ Salone Milan 2015

The Garden of Wonders @ Salone Milan 2015

garden of wonders logo

Perfume, a precious antique product with an artisanal heart and a global profile, is the focus of the Gardens of Wonder exhibition in Milan’s beautiful Orto Botanica di Brera.

An almost alchemic product, perfume is the result of a deep-rooted expertise and amazing handicraft production.

Here design meets the world of perfume in ten golden pavilions that narrate the past and predict the future of a product of fine craftsmanship

Milan’s Botanica Gardens were chosen as the amazing background of a sophisticated interdisciplinary project ” A Journey through Scents ” whose central theme is perfume, was produced by the international Be Open Foundation in the context of Energy for Creativity events programme around Milan organised by Interni Magazine.

This exhibition was designed to be shown at the upcoming EXPO 2015 in Milan, but had a sneak preview for Milan Design Week visitors

salone garden of wonders Fragrances

BE OPEN decided to explore the world of fragrances by directly focusing on some historic brands which have disappeared, international excellences and whose fame has decreased over the years because of a sometimes-too-aggressive global market.

In more recent years the relationship between fragrances and the look of the packages has become more and more intense, to such an extent that it has created well-defined brand identities, some of which are still used today.

The Garden of Wonders is inspired by the history of perfume and the history of raw materials from all over the world; each perfume represented a real and imaginary journey of goods and cultures making them of their time, globally distributed products.


A Journey Through Scents

The Garden of Wonders invitation

The general organization and set-up of the exhibition was entrusted to Ferruccio Laviani, who created a scattered museum in the greenery of Milan’s Botanical Garden where all parts of the project communicate with each other and with the Garden area as well.

Ferruccio Laviani is an architect and designer with a studio in Milan, he has collaborated with some of the leading companies of Italian and international design; here he has done the overall exhibition design

I liked the idea of transforming this place, which is already secret, into a garden of delights,” Ferruccio Laviani says, “a dream, a parallel world one doesn’t expect to find in this historic part of Milan. The inspiration for the pavilions came precisely from the idea of the garden,” the designer adds, “but the choice of gold is connected to the concept of luxury”

“Every greenhouse is a world apart, which the designers have freely interpreted. The world of perfume and that of design seem distant from each other, even opposites: one is physically impalpable, the other three-dimensional; actually they have a lot of similarities, they form a perfect pair.”  ……… Ferruccio Laviani



The layout is composed of simple outdoor elements that, due to an unusual finishing, transform the common greenhouses into precious objects containing worlds representing various essences

The Golden pavilions were designed by Laviani and produced by Unopiù in order to highlight the creations of the designers.


Ferruccio Laviani has created the general set up of a diffused museum composed by three sections.

Part 1  – The Houses of Wonders embraces 8 installations by 8 designers who worked on defunct brands applying their own personal vision in an effort to rebrand them.

Part 2 – A Vision in a Box, is an imaginative showcase of different bottles designed by famed designers inspired by the shapes that can contain the fragrance of the future

Part 3 – A Journey Through Scents is a visual, interactive tour introducing visitors to the most general aspects of perfume.



Part 1   The “House of Wonders” Project


The houses of wonders

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The reinterpretation of the eight historic brands, to the assigned eight designers have rethought their history and characteristics in keeping with personal sensibilities: they have acted as artistic directors of the brands to demonstrate that design can become a strong point for small businesses.

Equipped with ranging degrees of documentation – from rich archives to entirely lost histories – the designers were free to imagine the scent, setting, packaging and scenario for the brand they were paired with.

The results are each housed in an intimate room-set, boxed so that visitors must step inside one or two at a time to observe them.

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Each one of the installations has inspired Gérald Ghislain, founder of Histoire de Parfums, to create a unique fragrance which could combine the visual impact of the designers’ works with the historic perfumes now disappeared.


Gerard Ghislain ( fragrance maker ) invented a perfume for each of the pavilions of the designers: “ with my perfumes i like to tell stories,” he explains, “in this case I have made fragrances retracing the history of the brands, but also interpreting the vision of the designers. My aim is to create perfumes that seduce people: the inspiration is a sensation, a mood.”



Project Results


Tord Boontje – Waldes Et Spol Pavilion ( Czeckoslavakia )

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Waldes Et Spol was founded in Prague in 1930’s, with its’ most famous perfumes being Bon Ami, Mignon, Noblem, Remember Me.

Prague, the Bohemian capital, was a very exciting cultural city with close links to Vienna and Paris. This was a time of change: the new century was welcomed by Art Nouveau, the Vienna Secession was blooming and intellectual life was buoyant in the cafés of Prague.

Modern ideas changed the way the world was perceived. One of the main agents of change was Sigmund Freud’s radical new understanding of the human psychology

Tord Boontje drawing on themes of the belle époque in Paris and Vienna, imagined Waldes et Spol as a bohemian conservatory, where crafted fans gently waft the scent around lush furnishings surrounded by potted plants.

The soft perfume of coriander and oak musk recounts the memories of its bohemian life between Vienna and Paris, where female beauty was being reinvented, under the timeless and amused eye of the Rose.

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The installation in the pavilion is staged as a living space with a warm, romantic, lush bohemian atmosphere. Silent fans gently wave the air through a collection of aromatic plants, creating a subtly scented environment.

This deconstructed organic system to create scent is inspired by the early 20th century’s radical new way of looking at beauty. Seeing beauty as something natural, coming from the inside as well as the outside, built up of many complex influences like the human psyche.

The elements in the pavilion are supporting elements in this story  – as in Sigmund Freud’s office, we find a sofa and armchair (partially exposed to show the wooden construction that is normally hidden inside the furniture), alongside rugs with symbolic patterns related to Bohemian culture as well as depicting aromatic plants. Tables are balanced by heavy loads of unpolished marble. The fans are a hybrid between a machine and natural leaf-like shapes. Plant pots and vases are exquisitely delicate, as if these were flacons made by a perfumery.”


Fernando & Humberto Campana –  Biette  ( France )

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Fernando & Humberto Campana applied their signature rustic touch to French brand Biette, encasing an undulating white perfume bottle in a wicker construction cave-like setting.



Dilmore Studio – Bertelli  ( Italy )

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Paired with Italian brand Bertelli, Dilmore studio created a room clad floor-to-ceiling in glossy tiles, dotted with falling water.

The deco dazzle of Dimore Studio’s ‘Bertelli’ construction, inspired by the perfume worn by Greta Garbo.

dilmore studio


Piero Lissoni – Lundborg  (  USA  )

lissoni studio

Lissoni Associati, paired with American perfume house Lundborg, created dozens of identical apothecary bottles, which line the walls of the space.

A laboratory-inspired installation in the centre illustrates the handcrafted origins of the perfume as well as its botanical sources.

lissoni studio 2


Nendo –  R. Koehler & Co   ( Russia )


Nendo interpreted Russian brand R. Koehler & Co through two perfumes, one hot and one cool, which were displayed in a clinical, stark white setting.

The two bottles, ‘Fandango -12.3 ºC’ and ‘Fandango +23.1 ºC’ are named for the average winter and summer temperatures in Moscow, the home of the Koehler perfumerie

Blue-purple and red-orange tubes snake through the perfume bottles to differentiate them

nendo 2


Jamie Hayon  –  Boissard  (  England )

jamie hayon

Jaime Hayon’s portrayal of British brand Boissard sees tubular lighting pieces and distilling apparatus displayed atop a marble bench.

‘Kuriopotek’, by Hayon is a whimsical scent lab, come cabinet of curiosities

Characterful vases, rounded seating and stacking glass pieces combine with a striking colour palette of black, white and plum, for a modern take on elegance.

jamie hayon perfume


Front  –  Guyla  ( France )

front design

Front’s mesmerising installation presents French brand Guyla as a twinkling night sky.

The beaker-style perfume bottle is the centre of a room full of darkness, lit up by bright white dots of light.

Front’s ‘Fragrance Particles’, which suspends the perfume in between two layers of glass

front 2


Jean-Marie Massaud  –  Bertif  ( France )


Jean-Marie Massaud created ‘Bertif, a Timeless Scent’, which was inspired by the alchemy of the very limited edition run of Bertiff, first launched in Paris in 1910

Four perfume bottles are presented, each made over in a different material: glossy silver, cold white marble, warm turned wood and smoked glass.




Part 2   The “Vision in a Box” Project

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A Vision in a Box is a special pavilion hosting 10 projects that deal with the Flacon deemed to contain the fragrance of the future.

A Vision In A Box considers the future of scent design: ten studios have created luxury perfume bottles that respond to themes including the ritual of applying perfume, the placement of the object in-store and at home, and the importance of touch.

Each one of the 10 designers involved put his own philosophy into it and came up with a unique and exciting interpretation of the subject

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vision in a box designers



Part 3   The “Journey Through the Scents”  Project

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A historic-anthropological section in this special gold pavilion offers a path through the Centuries, in twelve phases, curated by the perfume historian Elena Vosnaki and Gérald Ghislain, a creator of fragrances.

From the rise of Oriental scents and the spices that came into vogue from the Silk Road, to Coco Chanel’s groundbreaking Chanel No. 5 and Thierry Mugler’s all-conquering Angel – and, through it all, the power of the smell of skin, the most primal scent of all.

scents house

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The pavilion on the history of perfumes and their classification investigates the presence of perfume in human history and the reasons behind the timeless appeal of this product.

Curator Elena Vosnaki, a perfume historian, has outlined an itinerary in twelve sections, twelve stops from the time of ancient Egypt to the present, narrating anecdotes, personalities and discoveries that have changed and enriched the history of fragrances

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From Egypt the narrative shifts through the mosques of Islam to the Renaissance and the 1600s, the century of plagues, all the way to the Orientalism that charmed 19th-century Europe and the great lady of fashion, Coco Chanel, in the 20th century.

The path concludes with the most coveted essence of our time, the oud (or Agarwood) over which producers do battle, paying outrageous prices.

The Garden of Wonders

salone garden wonder scents

For each of the sections of the historical itinerary the olfactory curator Gérald Ghislain has created an original scent, while a golden table presents eight essences that represent the eight great families of fragrances (Hesperidic, Aromatic, Floral Fruity, Powdery, Aldehydic, Woody, Chypre, Oriental), for an experiential voyage that is useful to recognize and classify perfumes.


Smelling Installations

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A useful, easy guide to understand how to perceive fragrances with greater awareness.

The perfumes are creations by Gérald Ghislain.

  • Hesperidic: Refreshing, effervescent, tart, juicy, exhilarating scent 1873 Colette
  • Aromatic: herbaceous, rustic, rejuvenating, sinus-clearing scent 1828 Jules Vernes
  • Floral Fruity: youthful, succulent, ripe, sweet, exciting scent 1804 Georges Sand
  • Powdery: soft, downy, makeup-like, feminine scent 1904 Madame Butterfly
  • Aldehydic: soap, wax, citrus, fizzy, dressy scent 1831 Norma
  • Woody: austere, sturdy, assertive, tar, bittersweet scent 1740 Marquis de Sade
  • Chypre: moss, polished, dramatic, sophisticated, undergrowth, tannins scent Noir Pachouli
  • Oriental: Opulent, mystical, velvety, sensuous, vanilla scent Ambre 114




Top note: grapefruit, orange, citrus, tangerine, bergamot, lime
Heart note: lily of the valley, orange blossom, spring flowers, lavender, violet
Base note: vanilla, caramel, white musk

Fine cottons dry on the clothesline in the breeze of the orange grove, somewhere in the sunny European south. A feeling of happiness in simple things!




Top note: grapefruit, citrus, tangerine, eucalyptus
Heart note: nutmeg, pepper
Base note: cedar, incense, vetiver, pine cone

He lathers with fresh-smelling shaving cream, taking a precise, close shave, the bathroom still steamy. He steps into the City energized, like a wolf out of the forest.




Top note: Tahitian gardenia, Corsican peach, Hawaiian pineapple
Heart note: clove, nutmeg, Indian jasmine, lily of the valley, Moroccan rose
Base note: sandalwood, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, white musk

In the sensual cocoon of the tropics, exotic flesh-like flowers blossom. A pineapple is cut in slices with a big knife. The juice trickles, the fruity aroma fills the heart.




Top note: Italian mandarin essence, neroli
Heart note: Florentine orris, heliotrope
Base note: cedar, sandalwood, musk

Pearly iris shares an incandescence with the finest feminine complexion, like that prized in the Far East. The contemplative scent of a woman putting on her face powder.




Top note: aldehydes, pink pepper
Heart note: rose, jasmine, Comoran ylang ylang, cistus labdanum
Base note: Indonesian patchouli, Sumatran benzoin resin, vanilla, praline, musk

Frostbite, marble smoothness and hellfire roll into one. The retro scent of a wealthy lady decked in the nines.




Top note: bergamot, davana sensualis
Heart note: patchouli, coriander, cardamom
Base note: cedar, bitch, labdanum, leather, vanilla, elemi, immortelle

The handsome stalker turned 50 shades of grey and resumed his riding whip, as eleven thousand silver birches were visible passing by through the windows.




Top note: patchouli, coriander, cardamom
Heart note: patchouli, flowers, berries
Base note: patchouli, musk, leather, vanilla

Dust to dust, earth to earth, the smell of the soil in patchouli essence has an aspect of camphor, of smoke and of leather. The scent of twilight, of black, of silence.




Top note: thyme, nutmeg
Heart note: rose, geranium, patchouli, sandalwood, cedar, vetiver
Base note: amber, vanilla, tonka bean, benzoin, musk

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Twelve historical sections and twelve perfumes





Perfume has its roots in antiquity, with the name literally referring to the fragrant offerings people across the Mediterranean and Middle East burned as incense to travel upwards to the gods: “per fumum” is Latin meaning “through smoke”.

The ancient Egyptians in particular were so invested in perfume making (thick unguents worn on their bare skull under wigs, as well as solid mixes kept in the Pyramids to accompany the dead into the underworld), that when Julius Caesar conquered Egypt he dictated that alabastra, ancient ceramics used to hold fragrance, were tossed to the crowd to demonstrate his victory!

Resin, mystique and sweet incense for the dead to assuage the gods Anubis and Osiris. The fragrant smoke rises in the air like hands in prayer.





“Musk”, an essence extracted from the pods in the genital region of the Nepalese/Tonquin deer musk, is among the most sacred of scents.

More penetrating and more persistent than any other material, musk acts as incense, medicine and perfume, all in one.

Arabs took the precious, hard-to-extract dried pods of the animal to make the softly enveloping, fragrant muṣká essence (the word means “testicle” in Sanskrit) and built it into the mortar of their mosques. As the sun hit the walls, the warmth made the smell rise, even 200 years after the construction of the building

Nowadays musk is substituted by intricate and refined replications of the raw.

Musk and exotic leathers on the Silk Road, the dry, warm scent of the caravan flies on the magic carpet.





The Queen Consort of Hungary, Elisabeth, also regent queen of Poland, used the cologne Eau de la Reine d’ Hongrie all her life, both using it on her skin and drinking it. It was said that she owed her beauty and good health to it, to the point that she attracted a suitor when she was already 72 years old.

The miraculous reputation must have stuck for much longer than her lifetime.

In the popular tale “Sleeping Beauty” by writer Charles Perrault, L’Eau de la Reine d’Hongrie is clearly featured as a mean to try to wake the sleeping princess, alas to no avail

A patch of rosemary for remembrance, fresh citrus and lush jasmine make the heart grow fonder.



plague protection


During the great plague in Toulouse (claiming 500,000 victims) 4 thieves were looting the houses of the dead, completely unharmed by the pestilence.

When found out, about to be burned at the stake, the judges intrigued by their resilience offered the more lenient death by hanging, in exchange for their secret: the scented recipe, Le Vinaigre des 4 Voleurs was used to rub their whole body for protection.

The same incident also happened in Marseilles in 1720, whereupon the thieves shared the recipe with the people thus saving their own lives as well.

In fact before the sanitation of European cities in the 18th century the use of aromatics and fragrances was based on their prophylactic role.

During plagues perfumer-doctors visited houses with aromatics molded into a gigantic bird’s beak to protect themselves.

As those “witch doctors”, with their duck-like noses, were often no more efficient for the pestilence than the placebo effect, the term “quack” became a synonym for charlatan!

Bitter herbs, camphor, acid and spice, those are the things protecting men who are wise.



high seas


When King Charles II of England had a fatal stroke in 1685, rumor rose of foul play, as it was suggested that his favorite breakfast of eggs with ambergris was the perfect medium to administer poison. The simultaneously warm, nutty, saline scent of ambergris would effectively conceal any foul taste.

The thick, gelatinous substance washed ashore, blanched and hardened by the sun and the waves, is ambergris, produced by the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus).

Produced in the animals’ digestive system to coat the whale against the sharpness of cuttlefish beaks, it is prized in perfumery for its warm scent and the tenacity it lends to perfumes.

It’s literally worth its weight in gold!

In Henry Melville’s novel ‘Moby Dick’ a whole chapter is devoted to the “grey pearl” of perfumery: “I say, that the motion of a Sperm Whale’s flukes above water dispenses a perfume, as when a musk-scented lady rustles her dress in a warm parlor.”

Bodies lying down on the beach, their skin melting under the sun, their skin salty with the kiss of the waves.



miracle water


Napoléon Bonaparte paid homage to his Corsican roots by embracing the Italian- conceived Eau de Cologne formula (famously popularized in the German city of Cologne by Jean Marie Farina, hence “cologne”).

The legendary general went through a gallon of the fresh citrus-smelling cologne a day and also consumed it internally on soaked sugar cubes; it was considered a remedy against colds and bad breath.

But his attention to hygiene must have stopped at the mouth: in a letter addressed to his later wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, Napoléon dictates “I’ll be back in 3 days, don’t wash!”

An Italian spring morning when, after a shower of rain, daffodils and orange blossoms release their scent.



mille fuile


When Ingres painted the famous Le Bain Turc (The Turkish Bath), full of naked odalisques, and Georges Bizet wrote The Pearl Fishers, Orientalism, the art genre imitating aspects of Middle Eastern and Far Eastern life, was rampant in Europe.

Profiting from the discovery of newly found lands and becoming aware of both chocolate and vanilla, Europeans began cultivating vanilla orchids for their fragrant pods as a flavoring , but it was the isolation of the pure substance of vanillin (found in both cloves oil and pine bark) which made the vanilla scent inexpensive.

By the late 19th century synthesized, nature-identical vanillin became a commodity. Pioneer perfumers used it lavishly in their perfumes giving wings to a new genre of fragrances, the “Orientals”, inspired by western visions of the exotic East.

Melt-in-the-mouth vanilla surrounds you in comfort, like falling down on a goose down duvet.



cyprus forest


On the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, the Pyrgos manufacturing “plant” is the first archeological site of a perfumery dating to1850 BC.

The tradition of “perfumes made in Cyprus” however was carried over through the centuries via a cosmetic preparation, the “cipria” face powder, popular throughout the 19th century.

This powdery, mossy scent gave inspiration to an ingenious Corsican perfumer, François Coty. He devised a clever harmony between 3 basic complementary elements: bergamot fruit, labdanum resin (from the rockrose bush) and oak moss (a parasitic organism on oak trees which smells like ink).

Thus Chypre (French for Cyprus) was conceived.

Its influence in the fragrance business was so monumental that every company produced their own “version” of “chypre”.

The sun through the foliage lights upon trumped undergrowth…fallen leaves, soil and warmth mingle in the air.



eau coutere


“A woman shouldn’t smell like a flower bed. Give me a perfume that smells like a woman!”

That was the demand made by Coco Chanel to her perfumer Ernest Beaux. Emancipating women by doing away with the corset, she wanted to also add a “designer” perfume, radically different from the previous “polite” floral waters of the Victorian and Edwardian eras in both scent and concept.

The crucial material in Chanel No.5, the perfume in question, is aldehydes, a sequence of molecules found in nature but purposefully produced in the lab, which help floral notes and other aromas “rise” and project like the bubbles of champagne.

No.5 is not the first perfume to contain aldehydes, but it was the first to contain them in such excess.

Rumor has it the perfumer’s assistant overdosed them by accident in one of the handful of editions presented to Chanel. She ended up choosing it.

Chanel No.5 became a pop culture symbol when Marilyn Monroe famously said it’s all she wears in bed and Andy Warhol painted the bottle in 1985.

The company paid homage to it in their 1997 pop art print advertisement. Floral “aldehydic” fragrances went on to become a best-selling genre.

A whiff of soap, of flowers, of wax, elegant chic of ladies carrying a capitonné clutch.



good luck charm


To extract lily of the valley, a verdant, rosy-lemony scent, is impossible.

And yet the classic Dior perfume Diorissimo smells identical to the spring meadows which erupt in small white bells in May.

Its perfumer, the legendary Edmond Roudnitska, grew lily of the valley specifically for studying in his garden at Cabris. He approximated the sweet, heady yet also fresh scent through a clever combination of other ingredients.

The little flower “bells” are said to be created from the tears that Eve shed when she was exiled from Paradise.

Thanks to euphemism, lily of the valley was later considered a good luck charm, as king Charles IX gave a posy of these flowers to his mother Catherine de Medici for luck on some fateful May 1st.

From then on this tradition carries on: in France May 1st continues to be the day people offer nosegays of this little fragrant flower!

Lily sings with its high pitched voice, the song of May in the verdant countryside.



sweet and naughty


The economic uncertainty following the Stock Exchange crash of 1987 fed the need for comforting scents.

And what is more comforting than something smelling of vanilla, milk desserts and sweet delights which remind us of our childhood, a time we were cared for and protected? Fashion designer Thierry Mugler came with the definitive “market influencer” in Angel, the impact of which we’re still feeling 20 years later.

The mix of an edible-smelling caramel core (due to the molecule ethyl maltol, which smells like cotton candy), tart fruits and dark patchouli was revolutionary.

It has now become standard for every company who have their own “gourmand” fragrance (literally meaning “glutton”), as sweet as dessert: Flowerbomb, Miss Dior, La Vie est Belle, Armani Si, CK Euphoria, Pink Sugar…they’re all progeny of Angel.

A Lolita bats her eyelashes and puts her narrow Florentine hands together, thinking impure thoughts.



immortal wood


Nothing is more cyclical than perfume tastes, making the finale come full circle.

You might be fooled by taking oud, the latest trend in perfumery, to be a musical instrument, yet despite the similar sounding name, it bears no relation to said instrument even though it has reigned in popularity in the same regions.

Alternatively mentioned as oudh, aoudh, aloeswood or agar, and despite its relatively recent appearance in western perfumery, oud dates back to prehistory.

Mentioned in the Bible, ancient Persian and Sanskrit religious texts, oud is inextricably linked to Assam’s and the Middle East’s cultural heritage.

The Indian monarchs employed the used, fragrant bark of Sasi Agar tree as writing material for chronicling their royal circulars.

Oud comes from the pathological resinous secretion produced by Aquilaria malaccensis trees when infected by a parasitic fungus, to protect the plant, over the course of several decades.

Its aroma, smoky, intensely musty-earthy, like undergrowth, with a touch of nuts, is exotic and unique.

The depletion of the natural resource has made the material skyrocket in price, making perfume, the most democratic of luxury products, once again like long ago, fit for royalty!

The king of fragrance wears his djellaba in gold, studded with cognac diamonds. Bitter and oily whiffs of wood, of resin, of mold, of nuts.

The caravanserai hosts the travelers off the Silk Route; spices wrap opulent dishes, almond and vanilla are sprinkled in rich desserts. The weary traveler leans on the velvet cushions, hypnotized by the drone tunes.


Project Team


About Ferruccio Laviani

Ferruccio Laviani

Born in Cremona in 1960. In 1984 he received a diploma at the Design Polytechnic of Milan and in 1986 a degree in architecture at the Polytechnic of Milan.

He collaborates with leading companies in the sector of furnishing and fashion – including Kartell, Flos, Moroso, Dada / Molteni, DePadova, Foscarini, Emmemobili, Dolce & Gabbana, Martini & Rossi, Swarovski, Porro – for which he creates products and supervises the corporate image for stores, spaces and events worldwide.

He has also been curator and designer of a number of major exhibitions for companies such as Memphis, Cosmit, Forum-Triton, Brazil


Elena Vosnaki – ” Journey of the Scent ” history curator


Elena Vosnaki is a historian, writer and consultant to major perfume brands; she is also a well-known blogger, thanks to her website Perfume Shrine

Historian, fragrance writer and industry consultant who established herself as one of the foremost bloggers in the field with the Perfume Shrine.

She has learned the principles and history of perfumery both formally and informally, at the University and via seminars, honing her skills by building a vast collection of perfumes & perfumery raw materials and gathering experience during her worldwide travels.

Her expertise has been acknowledged by the Fragrance Foundation, which has twice shortlisted her writing for Editorial Excellence, by the Met Museum, the Food & Wine Magazine and by the former New York Times scent critic & art museum curator Chandler Burr, among many others, praising her encyclopedic, historically contextualized knowledge and her lyrical & succinct prose.

She has been writing and consulting for international publications, popular perfume webzines such as Fragrantica and Osmoz, and copywriting for fragrance companies ever since 2005.

Fluent in English, French and Greek and musically trained,

Elena Vosnaki is a graduate of the National University of Athens, with degrees in History BA, History of Arts BA and Archaeology MA, as well as of the University of Cambridge, UK.

She has also attended specialized perfumery seminars and conversed about the tricks of the trade with some of the world’s most prestigious “noses”.


Gérald Ghislain – Olfactory curator

Gerald Ghislain

Gérald Ghislain is a creator of fragrances. He founded the brand  “Histoire de Parfums .

His philosophy is to tell stories using perfumes in place of words.

Born in Orleans in 1964 spending most of his childhood in Morocco, where he developed a taste for the mixture of flavors.

In 1984 he joined the Hotel School of Toulouse and at 22 opened his first restaurant in Paris, creating menus, decorations, atmosphere.

During a visit to the Museum of Perfumery in Grasse, Gérald discovers all the possibilities offered by the fragrance and the world of perfumery.

While keeping his restaurants, he follows in 1997 a training at the ISIPCA (Superior Institute of Industry of Perfumery and Cosmetics) and 1999 he founds Parfums Histories with for only philosophy do what he likes: telling stories using fragrances instead of words.

With the first three perfumes – 1804 Georges Sand, 1826 Empress Eugenie and 1828 Jules Verne- he tells the stories of famous characters.

But most importantly he gives birth to an olfactory library that he will enrich over the years.

His passion for detail lead him to be involved in all aspects of creation.

From the fragrance to the design, through the choice of the spray pump cover.

The only limit that Gérald follows is the respect of the traditions of French perfumery whose features are: luxury, nobility and quality. T

his respect for tradition and the attention for the details give birth to each of the 25 fragrances that make up today the ‘Histoires de Parfums’ olfactory library.

For his 50 years in 2014, Gérald goes back to his childhood memories by starting a new adventure with the Opéra’s collection, inspired by the many hours that he spent turning pages of the score on the piano while his mother sang.


About the Orto Botanico Di Brera

map of the garden

The Orto Botanico di Brera Dell ‘ Università degli Studi di Milano, is a historical Garden located inside Palazzo Brera, a charming and enchanting Green Island dedicated to research and teaching, in the heart of Milan.

Splendid open-air museum, the Botanical Garden today is a great place to learn about nature, discovering a different show each season.

The green oasis that is revealed is a surprise, a garden populated by trees to be discovered in the botanical path proposed, a place steeped in history through the architectural vestiges is told: the 18th century elliptical tanks, la specola which contained a tool of (1870) and the original brick flower beds today restored

The Brera Botanical Garden is part of a large cultural compound housed in the nearby Brera Palace, which includes the Brera Art Gallery, the Astronomical Observatory, the “Braidense” Library and the Academy of Fine Arts.

The surface of the botanical garden is only 5000 square meters; still it is worth while visiting for its special charm of an ancient garden rich in historical memoires.

From the sixteenth century until the 1773 Brera palace and garden have belonged to the order of the Jesuites. The palace was a place of higher learning while the garden was used as an orchard and for growing medicinal plants.

When the Jesuites were suppressed by Pope Clemente XIV, the whole Brera complex became a property of the Austrian State. The Austrian government maintained the destination of the palace as a place of higher learning. The prestigious Palatine Schools were transfered there and new cultural institutions were created, among them the School of Botany.

Fulgezio Vitman, a Vallombrosan monk was charged to organize the new botanic garden and to teach officinal botany there.

Vitman worked out the plans for transforming the ancient Jesuitic garden into a botanical garden with the advice of the famous architect Giuseppe Piermarini, well known for the Scala Theatre.

The structure created by Vitman is conserved until present.

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The garden is divided into three section: two of them have narrow flower-beds and a water basin at the center, the third is a plain lawn surrounded by trees. The greenhouse was built on the North side of the garden, facing South, but it was destroyed adn rebuilt. Now it’s a classrom of Academy of Fine Arts.

The main purpose of the garden was the cultivation of medicinal plants for teaching the students of pharmacy and medicine of Brera.

At the time of Napoleone the fashion of exotic species also reached our botanical garden that became a site of pleasure open to the population.

When the Austrians came back after the end of the Napoleonic Empire the Botanical Garden of Brera became a part of the S. Alessandro High School and the teaching of medicinale plants was conserved, even at a time when most botanical gardens of Lombardy were suppressed.

After the unification of Italy into a single kingdom the Botanic Garden was aggregated to the School of Tecnology and in 1870 to the Agricultural School that used it for its experimental cultivations.

After many other events the Botanical Garden became a part of the University of Milan that is still managing it.

Among the many famous persons who lived and taught in the Brera Palace we only mention the poet Giuseppe Parini (1729-1799) whose windows overlooked the Botanical Garden.

The Botanical Garden of Brera was the subject of a careful restoration – completed in 2001 – by the University of Milan; starting from 2005 it’s a part of Brera Astronomical Museum-Botanical Garden of the University of Milan.

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