Tom Jacq explores the artisanal craft of perfume production
It began as a joke between friends: briefed to create something which related to the body without using fabric, Tom Jacq and Alex Mitrovik applied their creative vision to the entirely invisible language of perfume. Exploring the sensory experiences of Hampstead Heath, he recalls how his approach to crafting fragrance was ‘absolutely naïve’: “we used what we had on us: tobacco, black pepper and wood bark.” This initial experimentation led to Source Tellurique’s first series Oud Wood, which is an encapsulation of the day spent in the woods, whilst the second fragrance, Agar Wood ‘has more animalism’. One of Tom’s friends finds it notably reminiscent of a Parisian café, post-orgy: where traces of bodies, cigarettes and wooden furniture permeate the air. These scents suggest ‘a state of security or desire’ and are carefully developed with a professional perfumer in Hackney, and then stocked in Shoreditch’s acclaimed department store Hostem.
“CREATIVES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONSUMPTION OF THE FASHION INDUSTRY.”
Having been raised close to Lake Geneva, nature is intrinsic to Tom’s being. Accessing the vast outdoors within London provides him with escapism from the confines of the city, and this interaction is effortlessly translated in the bottle design. Natural materials such as bark and burnt-out wood are enveloped by concrete: representing the purity of nature within a man-made metropolis. “I believe in patient production,” he states, after informing me that the white and grey cement takes over a month to dry in hand-crafted moulds. Such an artisanal and timely approach adds narrative to his fragrance bottles, which are unique, luxury objects to be kept after fulfilling their function.
If the conceptual, aesthetic and textural appeal of Source Tellurique’s goods weren’t enough to impress, then Tom’s readiness to acknowledge the importance of sustainability absolutely seals the deal. Tellurique directly translates as ‘of the earth’ and ‘from the earth’; consequently the perfume is ‘as organic as possible’, with the scents consisting of natural oils which are stored in recycled plastic bottles. As a young designer facing an industry wrought with waste, he feels that ‘creatives are responsible for the consumption of the fashion industry’. A principle which was affirmed when helping BA fashion graduate Sonny Tassell realise his graduate collection, which included transport blankets patch worked with offcuts from fashion houses — “I learned a lot from that gesture,” he remarks.
“I WANTED TO ACHIEVE, FROM THE DESIGN OF THE BOTTLE, A UNIQUENESS AND OBJECTUAL ASPECT. THAT EVEN AS THE SCENT WOULD RUN OUT, THE BOTTLE WOULD BE KEPT.”
What is furthermore refreshing about Tom’s ethos, is his understanding that fashion is a business where commercialism is absolutely necessary. Practicalities such as legally registering his business and having to consider budgets, provided him with an education which his course at CSM could not. He considers it to be an organic process just like the product development, despite its ‘incredibly stressful’ nature. It seems that to many at CSM, commercial can be seen as a dirty word, but Tom humbly states that creating something ‘that people actually desire’ is ‘the best success’ and an ultimate compliment. Such success will undoubtedly continue as plans unfold for different new scents and limited-edition bottles.
Source Tellurique perfectly demonstrates the power of experimenting outside of one’s discipline and its liberating effects. In playing with forms such as product design and perfume, he has broadened his understanding of how the industry functions, all the while creating a viable, honest piece of sustainable design. Without the collaboration of friends such as Rauwanne Northcott, who produced the communication, the project wouldn’t have happened, he reflects. For ‘the creative process depends on objective opinions’, and independent minds working together. He hopes that in the future, his brand will continue to grow and provide him with the enriching collaborative process which has gained him such success, so early into his career.