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The founders of the travel brand unpack their collaborative approach and help us to determine the ultimate home aroma
Words by Laura Cherrie Beaney in The Lifestyle · Sep 23rd, 2022
Boutique travel brand Montroi describes its approach as “Nomadic”. The brand borrows its name from a European village said to be part of the ancient silk road route. The team has now carved out a modern silk road route of their own.
Founded by avid travellers Enrique Hormigo-Scarlett and Samir Kaushik Aghera; Montroi's internationally-inspired perfumes, bags, and travel accessories foreground time-honoured craft-making traditions, while processes aim to empower the communities from which they draw influence. Collections are designed in Paris and produced by artisans in workshops scattered across the globe from Bergamo to Marrakesh. Perfumes are composed in Grasse, the French capital of fine fragrance while families in Jabal Akhdar harvest rose petals in the same manner that they have for thousands of years. With experts around the world immersed in historic and contemporary approaches to scent-making, there’s much to learn from the Montroi team. We speak to founders Enrique and Samir to discover how collaboration gives shape to the brand and the best way to establish scent-based harmony in the home.
In Northern Jaipur, we work with communities of women. They manufacture our incense sticks employing techniques and approaches that have been handed down to them over generations. We travel there twice a year to spend time with them and to source the vintage silks and fabrics that we use for our limited-edition bags.
Enrique: The Arabian Peninsula has served as creative fuel for us. Our artisanal rose water is manufactured at the Jabal Akhdar mountain which is 3,000m above sea level. Jabal Akhdar is the highest mountain in the Middle East and the source of the purest rose water. Montroi rose water is merely pure distilled rose petals. Only families living on the plateau and its surrounding villages are allowed to work in the fields and the production of rose water. This is a tradition preserved by the Omani government. It’s a yearly event that happens at the end of April-May when the rose fields blossom and rose petals are collected in the morning. In less than two hours the petals are processed, enclosed in clay pots, and on their way to their destination with nothing added to them! This marks the end of the production of rose water until the following year when the roses blossom once more.
These collaborations with local communities underpin all that we do at Montroi. We are committed to the preservation of historic craftsmanship, visual storytelling, and soulful design. It’s important to us that our artisans have a platform to explore and enjoy traditions that have historically been central to their societies. Through Montroi and our globally-minded approach, we provide our creators with a platform to pursue art while connecting their output to a curious international audience. As such we see the brand as a cultural bridge; an educational tool that connects and opens up dialogue through beautiful and timeless design.
Samir: We’ve enjoyed a long and inspirational relationship with the Middle East, an area with a diverse and fascinating history relating to perfumery; the introduction of our White Qasbah aroma is a homage to the Arabian Peninsula. The scent speaks of the region and exhibits a powerful mélange of rose, patchouli and rare oud.
Enrique: For us, fragrance is the invisible that becomes visible. Scent sets the mood, it’s what remains between the walls and fills the space between furniture pieces. Scent is what distinguishes an environment from a room.
Samir: Fragrance is of course a deeply personal preference. One’s fragrance should reflect their individual personality or their mood of the moment. When selecting a scent for the home try to establish coherence between the approach to interior design and the personality of the individual.
Enrique: People tend to approach interior fragrances as they would a perfume yet it’s important to note that there are several types of room scents to pick from and each performs differently. Candles are a slow-release option, they are elegant and provide the visual beauty of the burning flame; they continue to release their aroma for hours. Incense might well be the most intense option available to us. Incense helps to infuse the fabrics in the home with the trace of the scent - in a good way! Concentrated oils offer a heavier encounter with scent while scent diffusers are a lighter choice.
Samir: When selecting your scent it’s important to consider the purpose of the room - the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom are engaged with for different reasons and thus require different types of scent to establish the mood in that particular space. When picking multiple aromas for the same home, however, consider them as a set. Look to complementary scents from the same universe so that they work with rather than against one another.