We met with Lena in Glyptoteket in Copenhagen, in one of her favourite places where she likes to relax, clear her head and “nose”, and to think about her current perfume creations. We spent a whole afternoon there, filled with long conversations, warm smiles and inspirational atmosphere. Lena shared her story with us, the process of fragrance making and we also got to talk about her upcoming perfume created for FRAMA that is yet to be discovered at the 3 Days of Design, an annual design event.

Lena’s approach to developing fragrance has always been shaped by her relationship with her grandmother and what she learned from her as a child. She used to spend summer holidays at the grandparent’s house, where she helped her grandma developing perfumes. At the age of eight, Lena wanted to earn some money using the art of fragrance and so she started mixing rosewater and flowers into a perfume and selling it afterwards to her neighbours.

The childhood passion grew into a career but the path was not as straightforward as it seems. Lena had to face many obstacles and found herself working in the fashion industry for a while. With her background, sense for detail and creativity, it was only a matter of time before she reconsidered getting back to the origins. For Lena, it’s all connected. All the industries, including fashion, food or music, are essentially a form of storytelling. When she talked about composing a fragrance, she referred to it as composing a piece of music which suddenly helped us to understand the craft from a whole new perspective. As she said herself: “I’m not a classical perfumer. I’m more like a storyteller. I know how to build it up, but I want to do it on my own. I want it to be my story.” And this is also where Lena differs. She was never schooled to become a perfumer nor she needed to. She took a few courses, but it was never that essential to her working process. Lena admitted herself that if she received the classical education, she wouldn’t create what she does today. Her approach would change drastically and she wouldn’t be as holistic, natural and free as she is now in her work.

Following the principles and set rules might be boring at times, so she always tries to find her own way around them. For Lena, the fragrance developing starts with a story. “I’ve built up my stories. Travelling and discovering new places and cultures is very essential for the development of my perfumes. I travel a lot and I love to meet new people. The story starts with a person or a place. From that, I start building it by collecting pictures, creating mood boards, adding music. It can take six months or even a year. It’s a lot about making memories.”

The relationship between the fragrances and memories is the core of Lena’s work, but according to her, it’s very difficult to explain. In its fundamental truth, it is about feelings. And feelings are very personal and every time we try to enter the past, it feels different.

That is why Lena shared with us her own strategy of freezing memories. When she finds herself in a place that feels unique and makes her feel something special, her go-to move is to remember the feeling as much as possible so she can convey it in her fragrance. Abstractly speaking, she freezes the emotion and then re-visits it later in a studio. And it doesn’t end there. She remembers every detail, sensation and colour, every painting on the wall and every word that has been said in a conversation. These memories are then fabricated within her work developing fragrances for FRAMA, where each piece of the collection carries a stored emotion that Lena once felt at some point in the past.

When Lena came for this interview, she also brought her upcoming FRAMA fragrance with her. Not knowing its name or its composition, she allowed us to absorb its scent. Intrigued by the aroma, we asked her to describe the fragrance using a colour reference, and if she was to imagine it as a bouquet, what would she use for the flowers. For her, the fragrance represents a combination of greens, blues and browns, and coloured plants mixed with dried flowers.

Following the answer, we also hoped if she could share the story of this particular perfume with us. Lena smiled and instantly remembered: “That’s the Bali one!” She continued telling us about her journey to Bali in 2016. She found herself moved and inspired by the people living there so much that she decided to convey the feelings in this bottle. “They were so happy, so open and always smiling and yet they don’t really have much. I felt embraced every second of being there.” Lena was so eager to keep this warm feeling alive that she rented out a studio with all the necessary equipment so she could develop the scent right there in Bali.

We asked Lena, which colours would she use to describe her latest perfume - Bali. She said it would be mix of greens, blues and browns. If it was a bouquet, she would use a lot of green coloured plants mixed with dried flowers.