Scent and design in Jo Malone London’s layered landscape

By Farah Shafiq

Jo Malone London

“One of things I love about Jo Malone London is the idea that you can wear multiple fragrances at once – a spritz of this, and a spritz of that,” says Martyn Thompson, the multidisciplinary artist and long-time friend of the brand.

Thompson has been collaborating with Jo Malone London for almost two decades, starting out in photography, before experimenting with textile, wallpaper and ceramic design. From fragrance-layered candles finished with distinctive prints, to full- spectrum installations – completely transforming the Jo Malone London townhouse in Gloucester Place, Marylebone for LDF 2022 – “It’s been a journey,” he says. “And the fact that it has developed and changed along the way is what I find most exciting.”

In creating his second Design Editions collection, Thompson began as he always does. “With most things I do, the focus is colour. So, with Jo Malone London, I take fragrances and translate them into a colourful palette,” he explains. “In some cases, it’s very obvious – like Lime Basil & Mandarin – but, when it comes to the likes of Myrrh & Tonka, I find myself on the internet looking them up. And, a lot of them are just brown – so I interpret those into red-browns, brown-browns, grey-browns,” he smiles.

Designs by Tom Dixon

From there, he returns to the idea of layering. “I interpret the fragrances in terms of layers of colour, but also layers of pattern... I probably do 100 versions of checks, stripes and spots before arriving at the final designs!”

This intrinsic sense of playfulness shines through. “It’s not like I’m a trained painter, but as you see with a child, anyone can make a dot. You start with a piece of paper and a paintbrush, but before you know it you’ve got a sponge and you’re using your hands. You find your ways of doing things as you go. There’s always so much to learn.”

“I think it’s really important to be challenged, always. Because that’s what keeps you thinking and learning. That’s what keeps you alive.”

One of Thompson’s enduring inspirations is London itself. “I love walking through the streets of Soho, you see so many great looking people – not just in an attractive way, but in terms of being really well put together, people who totally thought about what they’re wearing. I think, often, people feel free to express themselves in that way in London. I find that very inspiring.”