the technique of allowing tones and colors to shade gradually into one another, producing softened outlines or hazy forms.
"Sfumato fragrances is the husband and wife team of Kevin Peterson and Jane Larson. We formed this company to provide scents that emphasize subtlety and complexity using entirely natural materials. Kevin is the nose of the company, engaging the olfactory skills he developed studying culinary arts to blend each of our compositions. Jane is the eyes using her background in art and design to conceive the brand’s visual aesthetic. Together, sfumato fragrances was created. Our hand-blended scents combine individual ingredients, or “notes”, each with different evaporation rates, to produce a fragrance that evolves as it unfolds in time. The top notes evaporate quickly and are smelled first. The mid and base notes follow more subtly in time. Graphing this concept shows the framework of both our scents and
By balancing the notes and creating harmony, we formulate our beautiful scent compositions.
Breathe deeply and enjoy the unfolding."- SF
Kevin Peterson and Jane Larson of Sfumato
- What is your back ground and history?
Our company was formed about 2 years ago. I have a background in both culinary arts and physics/engineering, and Jane has a background in studio art and graphic design. Through our powers combined, we had just enough skills to start Sfumato. Many years ago while I was studying engineering, I read “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins. The book is fiction, but talks a lot about scents, and I became really intrigued by the relation between aroma and cuisine, and with how hard it is to quantify and categorize smells. Playing with scents became a welcome relief from the heavy mathematics I was working with daily. After having the hobby for several years, giving away lots of samples, and making friends rate each new creation, Jane and I created Sfumato.
- Have you always had an interest in scent and fragrance?
I wasn’t around a lot of scents growing up, but as I grew older and started discovering how to use my nose to experience new aromas and flavors, I was totally entranced. It was an epiphany, and the scales fell from my nose. Simple things like the smell of raw garlic, or being able to identify an herb by crushing the leaves and smelling just blew my mind. Now scents are a huge part of my life. I start each day by opening the desk where I keep my essences and smelling a few bottles to get my fragrant brain moving, I ask strangers what scent they are wearing, and I have no shame about sticking my nose into various plants and flowers wherever I happen to be.
- How did the project begin?
The seed was really planted during a random walk through our Detroit neighborhood when I met a fellow named Jon Koller, owner of the Beard Balm company. He thought I was lost, and when it turned out I was just wandering aimlessly, we started talking a bit. He is an engineer that started his own company, grew it to having national distribution, and now has several employees. I was very inspired by his passion for his product and wondered if we could sell our fragrances in the same way.
- Tells us about the brand, its themes and character.
There are two beautiful ideas we constantly in search of: harmony and resonance. Resonance occurs when two objects share the same natural frequency, they are literally on the same wavelength. Harmony is interesting interplay between vibrations, whether they are musical, aromatic, or otherwise. Sfumato is a search for harmonies between fragrance notes, especially the unexpected ones, and also harmonies that unfold in time. It’s a search for resonance, finding scents that resonate with us, with each other, and ideas that resonate and create a beautiful symphony all based around fragrance.
- What are your views on where the perfume world is now and where it’s headed?
The best analogy I can find is beer. If you go back a few years, most beer was sold by a few large brands, and it all tasted pretty similar, and none of it was particularly unique or thought-provoking. Then all these micro-brews showed up and suddenly there’s a huge focus on quality, sourcing, character, each one is doing something more bizarre than the last, and it’s a marvelous time to drink beer because even the small Mexican grocery store near our home has 25 kinds of delicious beer I haven’t tried. Now, most fragrances you find at the mall come from relatively few, relatively large companies, but the fragrance industry is about to see an explosion in the selection and availability of small-batch scents. It’s a marvelous time to explore the world of fragrance.
- What were your fears if any, when you started the company?
Whenever I create a scent, I start from an idea and combine notes and go through many trials until it exactly matches what I had in mind, the closest earthly approximation of the Platonic ideal. This part of the work is complete joy. It’s when put the scent in front of other people that fear comes in. Will they smell it the way I do? Will they feel all the small details and appreciate the nuances? Once I’ve invested enough time to create a scent I think is complete, it’s a part of me. If people don’t understand a particular scent, it’s terrible, but when they just start nodding their heads, smile, and they get it, that’s the best feeling in the world.
- How has the company being based in Detroit effect the company or yourself?
Here in Detroit we have met a lot of people that are exploring unconventional ideas, just throwing themselves into unique and strange endeavors. That spirit is the reason we’ve stayed here and the reason we take on so many bizarre side projects that involve scent. For example, we re-created the smell of outer space for a party commemorating the first human in orbit, we hosted a dinner pairing scents, cocktails, and culinary dishes, and we are working on a project using fragrance to link the memories of complete strangers in our favorite bars. Although not without its hardships, the scene in Detroit is very open to new ideas right now, which is perfect for us.
Where can we find your perfumes for purchase?
Sfumato Fragrances are online both on our website, sfumatofragrances.com, and in our etsy shop, https://www.etsy.com/shop/SfumatoFragrances. If you are in Detroit, we are carried at El Dorado General Store in Corktown (eldoradogeneralstore.com), Savvy Chic/Savvy Gents in Eastern Market (savvychictrends.com), and Detroit Fiber Works on the Avenue of Fashion (detroitfiberworks.com).
- Finally, do you have any thing you would like to share?
I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse that scent cannot be transmitted online. So much information comes to us through computers or smart phones, yet for all the words and pictures, I have not breathed a single smell directly through an LCD screen. There’s a bit of sadness that I can’t simply smell all the wonderful creations from perfumers around the world instantly by connecting to the internet, but there’s also a certain beauty and intrigue that scent can still only be experienced alive and in person. I think the fact that scent has remained so elusive to quantification and digitization is a wonderful thing.