Have your ears ever been flooded with the sound of nothingness? The ear-splitting hum and jet-engine buzz of silence? Indulge me and imagine, if you will, a vast wintery landscape in northern Finland... a place still unspoiled by the invasive tendrils of man, where the sky is fathomless, and the point at which it meets the horizon, vitreous. Nature, in its purest, most undiluted form, has a drone of its own... one you're never truly conscious of until you train your ears to it. It's like the thrum of the refrigerator in the next room. Resolute, cold and unabating. It is in this particular environment that the Nordic nations have flourished for millennia, and indeed one that has influenced their culture, lifestyle and design vernacular.
Artek is a Finnish furniture company that has existed for over 75 years, and one which prides itself on the preservation of conceptual design sensibilities and technical expertise in production. Doing away with frivolous ornamentation, their aesthetic embraces the pure and simplest forms and materials found in nature. In 2009, Artek collaborated with designers/perfumers Comme des Garçons to create Standard; a fragrance whose intent was to remain analogous with Artek's design ideology.
Standard is a unisex scent, packaged in a stone-grey matte glass flacon, which is surprisingly cold to the touch. Although at first glance the bottle perhaps resembles an uninteresting basic building block, it is distinctly Scandinavian in style: straightforward, stark and unadorned. The scent itself is equally as austere, and I think therein lies its beauty. Comme des Garçons are masters of their craft... here they've created a scent that captures the bleak cold of a Scandinavian night; frigid, unpolluted and unrelenting. There are fascinating synthetic accords of metal and corrosion present that speak of Artek's architectural / manufacturing heritage, which are cleverly juxtaposed against components from the natural world. There are crisp lemony / green nuances that are played off against tea leaves, blonde woods and saffron. I feel if there were ever such a thing as 'green frankincense', then it would smell like this.
Standard, though flinty and somewhat unemotional, is a triumph in that it represents the clever marriage of conceptual ideas from both celebrated houses. It embraces the avant garde for which Comme des Garçons are renowned, but also pays hommage to the landscape and aesthetic enjoyed by the Finnish.
Standard lasts approximately 8 hours on my skin, even if applied sparingly. One to be tried.