At first glance, you’d be forgiven for walking straight past Vianney Hunter’s unassuming roller door in Sydney’s Inner West. It’s here that the master scent maker hand creates some of the country’s most interesting and alluring botanical candles, Hunter Candles.
For Vianney, the love affair with botanical scents is ongoing. “My fascination with scent began in my grandmother's garden. Mia had a green thumb (unlike myself) so her garden was abundant with roses, lavender, rosemary, thyme, geraniums and gardenias to name a few! My mother would first tell me the botanical history of each species and then we would crush the leaves or petals to release the oils. It was like some sort of magic to me!”
Why is scent so important?
Scent is an invisible language that’s a part of us. Our olfactory system is so powerful; it's able to conjure up memory and emotion. I discover and share scents that are able to evoke a feeling; whether it helps us mend, helps us feel comfort or simply reminds us to take a breath. That’s why I create.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I always struggle to answer this question! Scent runs in my blood, and every experience, or lesson learnt inspires me. At the heart of the creation is always how I want someone to feel. Places, people, moments in time, meals shared with friends, artists, music, stories, design, it all plays a part!
Do houseplants have a scent?
I believe house plants do have a scent! They have the damp soil, the green sunshine dancing on the leaves, and when snapped, the supple stem. We build a blend from a feeling. We’re special because we translate the scent of an experience, like a picnic, in summer, with loved ones, that gets rained out, or a dog comes along and steals your baguette. Here, I’d look at using bright florals, with grounding woods and soils, a touch of playfuls citrus, and a nod to bread somewhere in there! We create moments, and memories to connect with everyone.
How are natural scents created?
Oils are one of the most complicated parts of the complex science of candle making. We use plant oils that are extracted from plants and botanicals (called plant oils), but many candles use compounds created in a lab (fragrance oils). I concentrate on ensuring that when you burn our candles, you're not burning toxins, phthalates, parabens or petrochemicals.
Have you experimented with a combination that sounds great on paper but just smelled horrible?
For me, I could never formulate something that just looks good on paper. When blending oils, it's only about the smell. Over years of smelling and trying different oils, I've built a library in my head. When you smell something new, I can imagine how it will blend as a scent. However, some of these definitely react and smell funky when I’m experimenting...the latest was bourbon, chestnuts and cherries. Whoops!