On the first day of the Holiday Countdown we introduced the Gift Guide as a compilation of gifts that could take you on a journey full of exploration and experience without requiring you to leave the comforts and the public viral protection of your home. Over the course of the last few weeks we traveled the world from Tasmania to Greenland discovering gifts that are stunningly aesthetic and unquestionably alluring. But, we admit, most of the gifts we've share up until now are pieces that only subtly reference their originating lands. Today, we're offering a collection of truly transportive gifts that are each portals to phenomenal places, ready to carry you across land, sea, and space into new worlds of exploration and experience.
During our travels, we're bombarded by waves of sensory stimulation. Symphonies of sounds— from ancient church bells to waterfalls that are impervious to time—roar in our memories alongside the tastes of traditional treats and the touches of unfamiliar lands. But it's our olfactory sense that captures the most powerful echoes of experiences; olfactory echos that can, more than those of any other sense, bring us back in time to the moments we've held onto complete with the spectral showers of emotions and the sensation of presentness we felt at the time. So naturally, we're harnessing this olfactory magic and sending you on voyages across the world on sensory boats navigated by fragrance.
With sails up, we set off across the Atlantic Ocean. Our bodies painted and our noses incited by the salty chill of aerified sea spray exhaled by bounding waves, which kneads the air above the horizonless wakes, we ultimately arrive on the Portuguese shores welcomed by beaconing sands that reach to us from within the nestled alcoves between towers of stone carved by the hands of time and seas. Here in Castro Marim in the Algarve you can smell the sun licking the salt crusted cliffs, the verdant shoreside flora brushed by sands and migrating ocean mist. Rock roses blossom and kiss the air with fragrance, meeting the olfactory ribbons of rosemary, camomile, and sea fennel drawn and spun by the wind as it snuck past. 8950 bottles the experience of being in this Portuguese landscape. When the sting of winter chaps our skin, the 8950 body lotion calms our bodies and mind with its aloe, emollients, antioxidants, and stories of warmth and waves.
From the fragrant mountains of the Serra do Caldeirão [in the North-East Algarve] 8950 has [captured the aroma of the Algarve] with tangy freshness that exudes scents of lemon balm and rosemary, warm and sweet tones of carob and myrtle, the unforgettable scent of rockweed, all emulsified in aloe vera, vegetable glycerin, grape seed oil and other naturally sourced substances to produce a liquid soap, shampoo and body lotion, packaged in ceramic bottles from Alcobaça. (1)
Tundra Scent Sachet
Heading north, we venture back out into the ocean, following the contours of continental shores, though Baffin Bay and Queen Elizabeth Islands embroidered into the Arctic Ocean, past fields of lucid floating glaciers washed with the smell of ice and silence until we finally arrive on the western shores of Alaska. In Bethel, we're surrounded by culture and tundra. We smell the fur of sled dogs, cold and wet from the blanketing winter, the smell of fresh wild-caught salmon still glistening with lines of sea water resting between their scales, and the whispered smell of woven baskets warmed by the hands of Yup'ik artisans. As the eighth largest city in Alaska, much of Bethel is fragranced with life. But three women, triplet sisters and members of the Qissunamiut Tribe, take us by the hand past the veins of the city into the untouched and untamed tundra. Following in the footsteps of generations of ancestors through bog-like ground, the Sparck sisters of Arxotica harvest medicinal arctic sage, ciaggluk, succulent crowberries, and fevered Fireweed blossoms, denizens that punctuate the expansive landscape. Once dried, the fragile and fragrant botanicals are combined with tundra moss, decorative berries, and shards of faux ice and poured into verdant organza bags to create Tundra Scent Sachets that carry the memories of the Arctic land into our homes.
Next we travel the Russian coast over the Bering, Okhotsk, and Philippine Seas, tucking into the Singapore Strait before being carried by the waters of the Malacca Straight to the Bay of Bengal. As we step onto the monsoon soaked lands of India we walk along the shores of the Ganges until we are in Kannauj, deep in the heart of the country between Kanpur and Nepal. In this perfumed city, we float through clouds of sandalwood and jasmine, past ribbons of incense and olfactory sheets of aromatic spices that billow in the heated Indian breeze. Through alleys lined with cobblestones and the signatures of street artists, we enter an unassuming brick structure into a roofless courtyard warmed by banks of smoking fireplaces and phantoms of delicate smoke that possess and consume our senses as they guide us to monumental clay vessels. Devoid electricity, the workshop is devastatingly romantic, lit only by the canopy of the illuminated sky and the glowing embers charred by now absent flames. Fragments of pottery, infused with the fragrance of spices and teas from prior lives, are added into the vessels before being sealed into their cavernous earthen nest by a slathered ring of clay and a domed lid marbled by the touch of generations of artisans. Hollow bamboo pipes known as changas herd the frenzied vapors of clay scented steam, awakened by the embers, into the smaller vessels filled with sandalwood oil to ground each droplet of earthen essence with a sylvan serenity. The result is mitti attar, a petricore fragrance that captures the scent of the dry Indian earth enriched by the mercy of monsoon rains, complete with the lullabies of distant spices and mellow woods that slip out of open domestic windows into the city streets. (The scent will transport you but the image journey offered by Udit Kulshreshtra is an equally phenomenal attar exploration!)
Eau de Space
Our last stop takes us beyond the comforts of familiarly that we find in floral and earthy scents. We don our space suits, surround ourselves with the metallic industrialism of rockets, and leave our planetary homeland as we set off into the skies with Eu de Space. Developed with NASA and astronauts with first hand olfactory experiences, alchemists captured the smell of space, described as"…a rather pleasant metallic sensation... [like] ... sweet-smelling welding fumes, burning metal, a distinct odour of ozone, an acrid smell, walnuts and brake pads, gunpowder, fruit, rum, and even burnt almond cookie" (2). For a journey that is, quite literally, out of this world, Eu de Space guides us into the unknown in the most enticing and hypnotic way: with fragrance.
The Smell of the Moon has been described as "a unique smell, that's hard to describe...like spent gunpowder". Based on early accounts from Apollo Astronauts, Eau de Luna "The Smell of The Moon" is an authentic account of a lunar experience.(2)
Take your loved ones on adventure across and beyond the Earth with one of these spectacular scents of place. And explore the full Holiday Gift Guide for even more gift giving inspiration.