Interviews The Look of Perfume Part I: Interview with Bottle Designer Lutz Herrmann

The Look of Perfume Part I: Interview with Bottle Designer Lutz Herrmann

11/06/16 08:54:28 (15 comments)

by: Miguel Matos

Lutz Hermann portrait

Lutz Herrmann, photo by Florian Grey

Lately I've decided to explore the creative minds that work around perfume. Not perfumers, but people who work with perfumers and perfume brands in order to convey their message visually. Photographers, window designers, bottle designers, advertising creatives.... We frequently get our first contact with perfume in a visual way - a bottle, an image in a magazine or blog, advertising pages, a perfume shop window. Perfume can inspire and be inspired by visual codes and it all ends up interconnected in a way to sell us a dream, a fantasy, a message. In this first article, I spoke with Lutz Hermann, a German perfume bottle designer who owns a very successful design company responsible for major bottles for brands like Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabanna, Joop!, Beyoncé and Kate Moss, among others. I met him in Florence, while he was promoting his own perfume brand, J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin and I took him for a cup of coffee to chat about bottles.

Some creations from the Lutz Herrmann Design studio - Hugo Boss, Baldessarini, Lacoste.

Miguel: How did you start designing perfume bottles?

Lutz: First of all, I did packaging design in a company in Hamburg, where I did all kinds of packaging, mostly consumer goods like coffee, shampoo, etc. Then there were a couple of fragrance clients coming and what I found interesting in working on a fragrance packaging project was that you usually start from scratch. That is interesting because as a designer I am the first person to think about the product.

 

Miguel: Most perfumes in the mainstream market start from a name and packaging, not the juice. Sometimes the perfume itself is the last thing.

Lutz: Today, yes. In the past it used to be different. I'll give you an example: Roma. When I was working for a big design firm, the company was so happy about the packaging project that they asked me if I would mind considering the smell and the advertisement.

Roma Laura Biagiotti Ad

Miguel: Roma is an iconic bottle. I saw your portfolio and I was very impressed. You are responsible for the bottles of many bestselling fragrances.

Lutz: Yes, but there are more bottle designers with different approaches. Some perfume houses are looking for people that are not packaging designers because they don't want a traditional designer perspective. Puig, for example...they always try to be very modern and different.

 

Miguel: In my mind the word for the new bottles from Puig is “kitsch”. Except maybe for the new Jean Paul Gaultier perfumes.

Lutz: Really? I saw some pictures and I thought: “why did they do this?”

 

Miguel: I think they try to adopt their body forms to the archetypes of today.

Lutz: To me it looks like Thierry Mugler trying to be Jean Paul Gaultier.

Bottles by Lutz

Lutz Herrmann also designed for Playboy, David Beckham and Laura Biagiotti

 

Miguel: The late Thibault Ponroy, former general president of Guerlain and international director of Marionnaud, once said that a good package is the one that we don't dispose of after the contents are gone. Do you agree? A good bottle is the one we keep after it's empty?

Lutz: Yes, definitely.

 

Miguel: What is your main intention and personal drive when you are designing a perfume bottle?

Lutz: For me it's important to design for a brand. I would say I usually forget about my personal taste and I try to really go to the basics of the brand I am working for. I want to reflect what could be a representation of the brand. I did many celebrity fragrance bottles which can be fun. But can you imagine how Beyoncé translates to a bottle? What could be Kate Moss? I mean, in the first instant, I start to work before I meet these people. And then afterwards I meet them and it's amazing how they see their personality reflected in the shape of a bottle. For Kate Moss I imagined a simple square bottle with a circle which is a total contradiction. And it looks very English, like an old nail varnish bottle. She said “that's me, I love it!”

Kate Moss bottle

Miguel: Kate Moss totally identified with your bottle? How interesting. Can you tell me more examples?

Lutz: For Kylie Minogue I did this bottle that looked like a butterfly if you look from the front. But if you turn it it's the shape of a lip. It has a very curvy bottom. She said: “Yes it's my bottom!”

Kylie Minogue Bottle

Miguel: Did you have an opposite case, when the person didn't like the result?

Lutz: Yes.

 

Miguel: Did you change it?

Lutz: Not really. I just tried to convince her afterwards.

 

Miguel: Sometimes when we talk about celebrity fragrances, the celebrities are not really involved, they only give their name to the product.

Lutz: Kate Moss is very involved. She was involved to the point where the license company got really angry because she wanted to modify the juice again. She was very picky regarding each detail. She was not going to put her name on something she didn't consider good enough.

 

Miguel: Is it easier when you have a person and a personality to connect to the project? I mean, comparing fragrance celebrities to brands that do not represent one specific person.

Lutz: No. It's not. Sometimes it's easier to work on a more abstract idea.

Lutz works

More of Lutz designs: Kate Moss, Beyoncé, Katy Perry

 

Miguel: Do you ever smell the perfume before designing a bottle for it?

Lutz: Never. At some point I ask my client “why do you do this?” and they say that the perfumer needs to have an inspiration of a name, a shape and a colour. If he doesn't have this inspiration, he just can't do something that is different from the rest of the products in the market.

 

Miguel: Iconic designer Serge Mansau once said that a bottle is an actor and the perfume is the text. Do you think that the bottle and the perfume inside should always be related?

Lutz: They should definitely convey the same message. If it's contradicting that's bad.

 

Miguel: I personally think that to have a very dirty and provocative perfume inside a pure transparent and innocent bottle could be interesting.

Lutz: Yes, sure. You are right, it could be interesting to do that. Actually you have examples of this in the industry. For example, Dior Homme. It's a very crisp and clean bottle but the fragrance is not at all like that.

bottles

Laura Biagiotti, Hugo Boss, Joop!, Chopard, Jil Sander, Karl Lagerfeld, Cerrutti and Adidas are more brands that are a part of Lutz Herrmann's portfolio of design.

 

Miguel: What kind of materials do you like to use?

Lutz: To a certain point I love glass because glass has fluidity. You can make it crisp, you can make it round and soft, add texture on the surface. I think it's wonderful and you can still do some surprising elements in a glass bottle. If you put something in the bottom it will reflect in a certain way. It's really cool. And then I try to be honest with materials because I consider the customers and my clients.

 

Miguel: Knowing that you have your perfume brand, Schwarzlose, and that you are a perfume bottle designer, I look at the bottles from your brand and I wouldn't expect such a simple bottle.

Lutz: Here my intention was to focus on what's on the inside.

Schwarzlose bottle

Miguel: Do you think there are trends in perfume bottle design? If so, what's the trend now?

Lutz: If you look at the big companies, the trend is to look niche. If you look at the Louis Vuitton bottles, they are very simple and they look like pharmaceutical bottles. It takes all the codes from the niche market. On the other hand, niche is getting more tacky.

 

I found it very enlightening to learn from this side of the perfume industry and I already have more ideas to explore regarding the visual aspect of perfume. Stay tuned for the next installments.

Miguel Matos is a Portuguese journalist obsessed with perfume. Miguel likes to see himself as a fragrance curator, investigating perfume as contemporary art. He directs his own cultural magazine, Umbigo, and he has a background as an art critic. He is a vintage perfume collector and organizes regular talks called Vintage Perfume Sniffing and is an honorary member of the International Perfume Bottle Association. He writes on beauty and grooming for Beautyalmanac.com. Miguel is a Fragrantica writer, translator and editor of Fragrantica.com.br.



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K1
K1

I impatiently wait for window designer case Miguel.

Dec
31
2016
K1
K1

Considering you had lack of time during a coffee, you encapsulated a brilliant pack of questions. Thank you Miguel.

Dec
31
2016
xoxoMyke
xoxoMyke

Great interview!

Nov
07
2016
FishTank
FishTank

Here's my favourite part:

Miguel: I think they try to adopt their body forms to the archetypes of today.

Lutz: To me it looks like Thierry Mugler trying to be Jean Paul Gaultier.

Nov
07
2016
bibibling
bibibling

There are people who sell/buy empty perfume bottles on eBay! Some beautiful vintage ones, but current ones too, with zero juice left inside! Perfume bottles have real fans!

(I'm sure some of that is for some nefarious counterfeit perfume awfulness - so it's always good to see if this person is buying empty PERFUME X bottles before selling unboxed 'lightly used' PERFUME X at a too good to be true price.)

Also, I agree with ArtDecoStyle. We need to have a bottle database! (Though I know it would be a lot of hard work and data entry...)

Nov
07
2016
milkyway
milkyway

The design mr. Herrmann chose for his own brand is pretty nice. The last "crinkled bottle" designs he made are pretty cool as well.
I would also love to know more of what goes on behind closed doors before the perfume is being launched. This goes for bottle design, marketing campaign, even colour of the juice.

I personally never keep empty bottles, however much I'd love them. It's hard discarding them but its just a part of life. Making room for more new bottles :-)

Nov
07
2016
I.D.Adam
I.D.Adam

Thank you Miguel. You do the most interesting articles. I applaud you in interviewing those involved in the industry other than perfumers. Can't wait for the next installment.

Nov
07
2016
ArtDecoStyle
ArtDecoStyle

I wish there will be a "Bottle Designer" database in Fragrantica. A permanent topic in Forum can let us collect data about bottles and designers, in my opinion.

Regards...

Nov
07
2016
Siv55
Siv55

Ha! Contents come after packaging, well, that explains a lot :/

Nov
06
2016
matty64
matty64

I've always felt that a fragrance and it's container should have a direct correlation but with this interview I've discovered a new perspective. Thanks, good article.

Nov
06
2016
Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

The Roma bottle is elegant and to the point and it conveys everything the juice inside is about; timeless, sultry elegance. Well done our girl. Kate Moss for being so involved in a project that, after all, has her name. I personally care about the juice inside rather than the bottle, but some of my treasures have bottles to match. Great article Miguel!

Nov
06
2016
dorothea333
dorothea333

I love the bottles - and very often they make me look a perfume up on Fragrantica. I can't help it. I have looked at bottles and thought - please let me like the perfume in it :-)

Lalique bottles old and new are gorgeous.
But I also like the more 'zen-ish' style like the Lutz bottles for Beckham.

I have thought so many times, that the designer of the bottle(s) should ALWAYS be mentioned on Fragrantica. Please :-)

Nov
06
2016
bibibling
bibibling

"...and they say that the perfumer needs to have an inspiration of a name, a shape and a colour."

I always had this chicken-or-the-egg question in my head: which comes first, the juice or the bottle/advertising concept and now I finally have my answer.

I'm sure it must be the other way around for some companies though. Letting the perfumer come up with something and then matching a name, color, bottle and ad campaign to it... Especially if it's one of those solo operation 'the nose is the boss' companies.

Nov
06
2016
perfumecritic
perfumecritic

I LOVE the Roma bottles! Very cool to know who the artist behind the design is. Thank you, Miguel : )

Nov
06
2016
Ashcroft87
Ashcroft87

Please find the person behind the bottle of Lancome Hypnose Homme and do me a favor: Commission to him the next releases :)

Nov
06
2016

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