DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET?

We'll ask our friends, artists and creatives to reveal their secrets

WHO ARE YOU?

(WHO YOU ARE DOESN'T MEAN WHAT YOU DO;

THIS IS THE SECOND QUESTION)

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I’m still wondering.

I ‘ll better say who I would like to be:  a happy man who can make happy anybody by his side.

I’m Spanish, that’s on my ID card, but I feel a part of a greater planetary community, that includes, of course, plants, animals and stones.

In Spanish, the verb to be has two possible translations: to be and to stay (ser or estar).

I would like to “stay” more and “be” less. And if I have to choose a place to “stay”, that would be here.

What do you do? Where do you live?

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I capture the aromatic essence of the landscapes that moves me.

Literally, I put landscapes in a bottle. I don’t consider myself being a perfumer, I have a great respect for that craft and its art.

What I do has nothing to do with perfuming. I try to help people re-connect with Nature through smell, the most primitive and animal of our senses.

I like to share the wonders and benefits of my natural environment, here in the Empordà region where I live.

And of course, I immensely enjoy spending time outdoors, walking and highking in the wild.

Because it is not only about crossing the landscape but letting the landscape cross through to us.

TELL ME YOUR SECRET

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Of all the senses, smell is the most primitive and archaic. It was crucial for survival. However, it is the sense that has deteriorated the most in our evolutionary process. Quite beyond the human species, in my family as well its loss is clear. Not only for the size and shape of our noses, but when it comes to the subtlety and precision of our olfactory apparatuses. Yet in my family, the more our noses have lost their character, the more daring they have become.

My grandfather was a chemist and a man with a fine sense of smell and a prominent nose. He was able to differentiate the scent of 53 different kinds of roses. Working for Myrurgia and Dana he invented some of the most popular colognes and toiletries of his time (such as the cologne Simpatía and the Maja soap line). In 1925 he created a laboratory of essential oils that exported its products to the great French, German and American perfumers. 

My father was known as the Catalan Alberto Sordi, because of his resemblance to the popular Italian actor with the imposing nose. Yet he could hardly tell the difference between peppermint and lavender. However, he did know how to deal with the dire effects of synthetic fragrances on the family business, creating innovative new lines of disinfecting soaps and getting into the prophylaxis market. So in that way, in the end, he demonstrated that he did have a good nose (for business).

So that is where I come along, neither continuing in the family business nor inheriting a good sense of smell. In fact I ended up being a contemporary theater maker and perfomer, touring around the world with my own Company Fundación Collado-Van Hoestenberghe.Yet in 2010 I began to feel the effects of a curious neuronal extravagance: phantosmia, or olfactory hallucination. My nose (in reality, my mind) was not able to tell apart 53 kinds of roses, but it was able to create smells that do not exist. They were smells that were usually difficult to identify and were the result of impossible combinations. 

Written that way it sounds funny, but for me it brought on enormous anxiety. Specially because the smell I “felt” was a bad one. I kept this as my dark secret, afraid to let it out and a bit ashamed. Still now, it’s not easy to say that the perfumer who creats our fragrances has, in fact, a smelling disorder. It was then (6 years ago now) that I began to become interested in everything that had to do with smells. I read about glands, neuronal pathways, olfactory families and aromatic notes. The only way for me to get rid of that bad smell in my head was by training my brain to separate the allucination from reality, and this could be done by practicing smelling. Rather than opting for artificial perfumes and aromas, I began to ask what my own world smelled like. Living in the Empordà and being inclined to taking long walks, the first thing I did was smelling the plants I knew: rosemary, thym, mastik plant, pine resin…Plant by plant, I recovered my sense of smell, and I realize how incredibly nice was the aroma of my home landscapes. I bought a small still and began to combine essential oils I extracted from the plants, bark and mosses that I gathered on my wanderings. Those first colognes sought to reproduce the smells of those walks, of the landscapes and moments which filled my everyday existence and made me so much good. I wanted to fix these smells without additives of any kind, and share them with my friends and loved ones to check if we were smelling the same thing, or in any case, to see if those smells had similar effects on us. My adventurous nose came out of its self-imposed ostracism and dared to show itself, just how it really was. Bravanariz is the result of that fascination for the aromas of landcapes and the way I found to share my passion for Nature.