Born of a friendship between an Italian master perfumer and an oudh-aficionado from Jakarta, The House of Oud is more than a niche perfume house – it’s a meeting of minds. A place where art, fine fragrance and exquisite engineering combine, we invite you to fall in love with their creative vision…
When Andrea Casotti was studying for his degree in engineering, he wanted to keep his passion for art alive – believing (as the alchemists did, centuries ago) that Art and Science are not necessarily opposites that must be kept apart.
In fact, he observes: ‘A laboratory of fragrances is a place where art and engineering have the opportunity to blend together.’ Obsessed with scent, it was a meeting with an oudh expert based in Jakarta – which flourished into a long-term friendship – that also built the foundations for The House of Oud.
Built around this central, precious note, the fragrances each reflect a different facet of this infamous (and often much misunderstood) ingredient. And with two experts in their (fragrant) field now working together, the flames of their combined passions forged a collection that celebrates the traditions of oudh in the Middle East, while making it utterly contemporary in style (and instantly wearable) for those parts of the world unused to its often impactful headiness. [N.B. You can read more about the history of oudh – a.k.a. starwood – in our Ingredient page dedicated to that fragrance note, here.]
Indeed, making oudh accessible was at the heart of their ideas. Within the fragrances it was vital that ‘…Oud should never dominate, but is used to create a bridge between other ingredients. The result is a richly nuanced and completely addictive range. Delving into any of the scents, you’re absolutely bound to become as enamoured as we are.
Having launched The House of Oud in 2016, using his own creations and those of fellow noses Cristian Calabro, and Maurizio Cerizza, Andrea now asserts that he has ‘the greatest job in the world!’ His day revolves around meetings, sourcing the very best raw ingredients from around the world, overseeing the creation of the fragrances and the hand-finished bottles (each oval flacon given an artistic coating, as you can see here – hand dipped, marbled or crackle glazed – that is utterly unique, so no two will ever be the same). And honestly, the bottles look as though they should be in a gallery setting, indeed we know many collectors buy two at a time – one to use and one to keep for display! These are truly gasp-worthy pieces that deserve to be shown off, and reflect the artful nature of the juice inside.
Those juices fall into several distinct collections, as the house has grown: two original collections of Desert Day and Klem Garden, to which the fragrance Wonderly (left) was later added. One of Andrea’s own creations, it invites us to consider the concept of snow falling in the desert, and that ‘nothing is impossible,’ if only we can ‘open our horizons to endless possibilities.’ A joyful accord of goji berries and juicy apricot preludes delicate white flowers and creamy sandalwood. It feels cool and yet comfortingly cosy all at once – a duality and contrast of olfactory textures that showcases the creative ethos and intriguing complexity at the heart of the house.
A more recent addition has been the THoO collection, ‘cross-fertilising between art, music, styles, fragrances, painting, beauty, patisserie, nature and life, following the map of creative freedom.’ It encompasses the scents Just Before, Live in Colours (above right) and The Time. ‘Like a brush on canvas, this perfume permeates the skin… Nuances are illuminated, play with the light and reflect states of the soul,’ as they put it.
Under the THoO umbrella, Andrea has been collaborating with creative visionaries – including Milanese graffiti artist KayOne, and Canadian Patisserie’s Ksenia Penkina (on the delectable gourmand Keep Glazed, right). We can also look forward to the annual launch of a Crop fragrance, which showcases the best of the oudh harvest for each year; each of these will vary according to the climate and conditions in that particular season.
For Andrea, these differing avenues of creative exploration give him the opportunity ‘to follow up on this great adventure’ by cross-fertilising his twin passions, to work with his dear friend and fellow artists, and to further his belief that ‘…as Pearl S. Buck put it: “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”’ And we think you’ll agree absolutely, that to wear anything from The House of Oud is to enjoy the excellence of art and design in fragrant form…