Interviews Nomenclature: The Nomenclature Guys

Nomenclature: The Nomenclature Guys

11/01/16 10:19:04

by: Sergey Borisov


Founders of Nomenclature

Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero, founders of Nomenclature.

One of my best discoveries of Pitti Fragranze 2016 was made when meeting with the Nomenclature guys, Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero. The brand had a mega-successful first appearance last year – the Pitti visitors had taken all the provided samples by the end of the first day. Their simplistic harmonious fragrances are built upon the concept that man-designed perfume materials should be the stars of a perfume, and their impressive packaging design looks like the The Escentric Molecules idea, but elevated to the next level. I was happy to conduct an impromtu interview with both of them.

SERGEY: So, how did your Nomenclature project get started?

CARLOS: Let’s start from the beginning! Karl Bradl and his partner Robert Gessner opened their boutique Aedes de Venustas in 1995, and without even knowing it, they opened the first niche perfume shop in the world!

KARL: In New York.

CARLOS: Yes, in New York. And after 20 years of retail experience and knowing perfume trends, they created their own perfume line Aedes de Venustas, which is beautiful, and they are all strong classics now.

And we met 7 years ago. I have experience in packaging; from 2001-2005 I worked in Milano for ICR, a company that produces perfumes for the prestige market, so I worked on packaging for Roberto Cavalli, Gianfranco Ferre, Romeo Gigli  etc. I moved to New York and started working for magazines, and one day we met. And it was like a match made in heaven because I know packaging, and he knows perfumes.

KARL: We started working on this project almost four years ago, evolving from a layering product into a minimalist perfume line that aims to create an archive of fragrances showcasing the man-made aroma-chemicals/synthetics/molecules that have changed modern perfumery. We want to highlight the molecules that changed the perfume industry, the history of the fragrance world; we want to point at the four most important molecules.

And we found a great name for it: Nomenclature. A Latin word, universal and closely related to chemistry; the perfect name for what we've decided two years ago to be our mission: Celebrating Design in Perfume Chemistry.

Nomenclature flacons

SERGEY: And how did you choose the molecules? Was it through a poll amongst perfumers or bloggers?

CARLOS: No, it was subjective list. We just asked people. But everyone knows about the most important synthetic materials. For example, aldehydes were used in Chanel №5 and became like a staple for perfumery, it really changed the way perfumery was done. Now there are a lot of different aldehydes and we used one of them, Cucumber Aldehyde, in our Iri_del fragrance.

KARL: The second material was synthetic musk. It changed perfumery because there was only natural musk before, and now we have dozens of them. And we chose Helvetolide musk because it’s the most pleasant musk, the most clean and least sweet of all to our taste, so we used it for our Adr_ett fragrance. We worked with Firmenich, since part of our brand vision was to use captive molecules. Maybe synthetic musk is not captive now, but it was patented back then, and Helvetolide was one of them.

SERGEY: Let’s continue to cover all the bases. The third one was..?

KARL: The third one was the legendary Hedione. And for our Efflor_esce we used the more advanced and contemporary material from the Hedione family named Paradisone, created by Firmenich. The material just lost its patent about year ago.

And the last one was Orbitone, it is the trademark for Iso E Super of Takasago. Technically, it’s not a single synthetic molecule, but it’s used under one name and we used it to create our Orb_ital fragrance.

When we started to talk about Nomenclature, we wanted to put the emphasis on the synthetic, man-made part of fragrances, on the synthesis, on the creation and design, more than just on simple molecules. Because simple molecule perfume had been done already, you know, Escentric Molecules and Velviona Helmut Lang.

In Nomenclature we celebrate design in modern perfume chemistry by showcasing today’s most inspiring, exclusive molecules. Because when they mixed Coumarin with other materials, that’s when modern perfumery started. Through a series of sheer and streamlined compositions, Nomenclature explores their complex facets and their potential for protagonism. Demonstrating that these man-made hybrids of poetry and science have a beauty all on their own. The beauty of modernity.

Nomenclature Box

SERGEY: I can see that your approach is more about design, as synthetic molecules themselves changed the way people design perfumes… and it’s not only inside the bottles, but also expressed perfectly in the outer boxes and your bottles.

KARL, CARLOS: Yes, of course! It’s all custom-made. A custom mold for the bottle, a custom mold for the sprayers, the steel we used is of surgical quality, and we have a patent pending on the box system, because it’s kind of origami… the system that holds itself, and one piece of paper locks the whole thing, and that’s the patent that we’re waiting for now (the new box was opened by hands but with some sort of magic)

We also made a design with these chemical symbols, we call it “impossible molecules” as they are not real… We did think of using some real pictures of the chemical compounds, but some of them were esthetically not perfect enough to use in design. So it’s just fantasy molecules that evoke thoughts of chemistry. And if you turn the bottle you can see a hologram effect here, but that was not designed, it’s just a coincidence.

Lumen-esce Fragrance

SERGEY: It looks like you're presenting here the new fragrance…?

KARL: Yes, it’s Lumen_esce Nomenclature, created around Violettyne (1,3-undecadien-5-yne) which was a captive molecule from Firmenich dating back to 2000. It has a nice fruity and green smell, with a strong violet leaves facet and mild galbanum, cucumber and green pepper accents. So Firmenich is the producer and Frank Voelkl is the perfumer. The idea behind the fragrance is a “Modern Electric Violet”, to get away from the grandmother’s violets connotations; it’s a very flashy and sparkling fragrance but still very comforting. It has a bit of a modern chypre effect due to some Patchouli Prisma material in the drydown.

SERGEY: And I cannot say it’s a synthetic smell!

KARL: We want to put molecules center stage in a fragrance, but we are not aiming to be 100% synthetic, so we use naturals as well. Naturals and synthetics are echoing each other in this composition.

CARLOS: You can see the slightly violet color of the perfume. We named it Lumen_esce, because lumen is a measure of light (unit of luminous flux), and we learned that violet and ultraviolet light are the most energetic light in the spectrum. So we wanted to mix flowers and leaves of violets with the energy of light. And the color violet is generally considered to be the color of majesty and mysticism, of  higher states of mind, the color of wisdom and magic. So the challenge was to capture all these elevated concepts in our perfume, and to avoid the smell of violet candies or grandmother's perfume.

SERGEY: Did you enjoy creating the perfume with Frank Voelkl?

KARL: Yes. From the very beginning it was a great violet fragrance. And we really had fun working on it with Frank, as he really understands how to bring modernity into a perfume. It’s his third fragrance for our Nomenclature line, after Adr_ett and Efflor_esce, so he knows our brand's DNA and how to do it right.

Perfumer Frank Voelkl

Frank Voelkl, the nose behind Lumen_esce


The smell of Lumen_esce Nomenclature is fresh, green, luminous powdery and flowery. It made me think of how one of the very first perfume-chemistry successes was the violet-like smell of ionones, captured by Ferdinand Tiemann and Paul Kruger in 1893.

Lumen_esce is a light, romantic, flowery bouquet with a metallic zing, a white wet fog, shiny droplets of water and bright green fluorescence. This is sort of an inverted bouquet as there are far more green leafs around it than flowers, but I smelled some pink roses, powdery iris and watery freesias in the lush greenery.

Lumen_esce could be bridal fragrance but I would not limit its application by romantic ceremonies only. It also fits to office work and any city park walk, its cocooning properties come to my mind naturally.

Flacon Lumen-esce

The brand is just one year old, so it’s not greatly distributed yet. It’s obtainable through Net-a-Porter (US),  Skins (Netherlands) and Essence (Italy), and it was just launched in Russia (Rive Gauche) and in South Korea in September 2016. And of course you will be able to buy Lumen_esce Nomenclature in both the Aedes de Venustas e-shop and brick-n-mortar shop, starting November 2016.

Lumen_esce Nomenclature

Notes: Violettyne©, Violet leaves, Freesia, Jasmin Sambac, Bulgarian Rose, Bergamot, Patchouli Prisma.


Sergey Borisov has been involved in perfumery since the early 90`s when he had his own perfume-devoted program “Close to Body” on Krasnoyarsk radio (1993). As a perfume enthusiast (known as moon_fish), he became famous in Russia for his translation of  Luca Turin's Perfume: Le Guide. He collaborated with GQ, Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Interview, Forbes, Allure, Robb Report, Flacon, Departure, RBC-Style, TSUM-Magazine (2008-2016). His own online columns for,, and (2006-2015) have earned him international recognition and an invitation to be an editor for the Russian edition of “The Little Book of Perfumes” by Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez.  In 2013, Sergey joined the Fragrantica team

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