Byredo: The Answer to a Brilliant Bathroom Cabinet

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Byredo, Photography by Felix Cooper
ByredoPhotography by Felix Cooper

Ben Gorham, the founder of cult fragrance house Byredo, spills the secrets behind the brand's sublime signature scents

What does your bathroom cabinet look like? Is the product selection really the best it can be? It’s safe to say, we could all benefit from a bit of a bathroom cabinet shake-up.

Byredo is a brand that helps. The product design – elegant, clean and supremely modern – and a distinctive, bold logo – what Byredo founder Ben Gorham describes as “happy typography” – is strong contender for chicest beauty product of all-time. And that’s no mean feat – there are countless beauty brands that present chic bathroom cabinet propositions, from the newly designed cracked glass Diptyque eau de parfum bottles, to Glossier’s Balm Dotcom.

Yet it’s not just a brilliant exterior that makes for an appealing Byredo product. The brand excels in perfume names – from Mister Marvellous to Gypsy Water – as well as unique concepts and collaborations, including graphic design duo M/M (Paris) and photographers Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Byredo first launched in 2006 with a collection comprising four perfumes, and now boasts a range of 22 perfumes, body care, home fragrances and leather accessories.

The man behind the Stockholm-based brand is Ben Gorham, a native Swede, born to an Indian mother and a Canadian father and raised in Toronto, New York and Stockholm. Having begun his career as a professional basketball player, he later enrolled at art school and discovered the world of fragrance after a chance meeting with Swedish perfumer Pierre Wulff. Gorham was particularly intrigued by the connection between scent and memory.

The latest addition to the Byredo family is Rose of No Man’s Land, a perfume that pays tribute to the nurses who saved thousands of lives on the front lines of World War I. Inspired by the selfless and compassionate nature of their work, the perfume works like a soothing balm, opening with notes of pink peppercorn and Turkish rose petals. Like every Byredo product, there are layers of creative collaboration – from the noses of Olivia Giacobetti and Jerôme Epinette to a campaign partnership with model Freja Beha Erichsen and photographer Craig McDean. 

Following the launch of a flagship store in New York’s Wooster Street, Byredo is currently celebrating a newly designed counter in the Beauty Hall at Liberty. Designed by Gorham and Swedish architect and designer Christian Halleröd, the space captures the brand’s exacting design principles, with polished aluminium shelves, display trays and counters, and terrazzo clad walls and fixtures. If you were seeking bathroom inspiration, look no further.

Here, Ben Gorham shares the key processes in his work…

The timeline of a fragrance?
“It really does vary from perfume to perfume. There is a long kind of undefined period of me putting together a brief. The perfumer never sees that – it’s just me travelling around and meeting people and taking notes. It then eventually becomes a brief which I then present to the perfumer.” 

What exactly does a perfume brief look like?
“I’m terrible with words but sometimes it is written. Sometimes it’s a collage or sometimes it’s imagery. Sometimes it’s objects. I bring things. I brought a bottle made out of camel leather once. It really varies. But the brief is always communicated in person and it’s always a dialogue. It’s really about getting the perfumer to capture the emotion of something.” 

When does your brain work best?
“Definitely when I’m travelling. I have a very hard time going to my studio, sitting down and doing ‘creative work’. I make notes on my phone; I also use a little notebook. When I’m in the studio I gather the notes and see how they are related.” 

If you had to choose a favourite Byredo?
“They’re all like children. Leather is kind of like the baby because it’s really cute. I also like the fact that I can jump in between. That’s much more in line with my personality – being able to do completely different things. And to have a singular vision that ties them all together.”

Liberty is hosting an exclusive, one-month preview of the new Byredo scent, Rose of No Mans Land (£88 for 50ml, £130 for 100ml).