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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Superior Interior: Jonathan Ward, London

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After months of searching for a great apartment in London, I finally found it. Space? Check. Light? Check. Nice neighbourhood? Check. I've really lucked out. Setting up home has grown my interest in home design from zero to obsession. Effectively I'm starting from scratch, having left most of my former possessions in charity shops across Glasgow, Edinburgh and Paris. The desire to re-clutter is ever present and although I've vowed to continue living the simple life, there are a few small touches which certainly make a house (or converted Victorian warehouse in my case...had to get that in) a home.

A few weeks ago I smelled experienced what turned out to be a Jonathan Ward candle. The perfect addition to my new abode. With bit of research, I discovered each candle is hand made in London and having little idea of how you'd even begin to make a candle (melt wax and pour?), my curiosity got the better of me. Three weeks and a lot of diary shuffling later, Jonathan let me come along to his studio for the afternoon to photograph the creation process.

Visiting the Clapham North head quarters, the week before moving production to a larger studio, things were incredibly busy. A bulk order for Grosvenor House Apartments was on it's way out and a massive batch has just been created for a new retail order. Luckily, I squeezed between the shelves, units, heaters, bottles and desks, to photograph the magic in action.



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On his career:
When I graduated from a degree in fashion design, I was offered two jobs. One with Marks and Spencer and the other with a designer in New York. I chose New York. I was 22, in a world class city and had never really experienced a place of that scale. I ended up living there for 10 years and it really was an incredible, formative time in my life. The city has this energy which is infectious and New Yorkers work incredibly hard. At the end of each day, you only leave if the work is done. That ethic has really been with me since the beginning and of course, it's what's needed when you run your own company. 


On leaving the fashion industry and discovering fragrance:
I decided to move away from corporate fashion design because, for me, the trends move too quickly. I pour myself into everything I design and refuse to believe that something is only beautiful and desirable for one season. I love fragrance because I can design something and it can last for decades. It's not so throw away and that fits with my brand values well. I started developing and learning my craft about 7 years ago. Learning to use your nose is a skill that has to be groomed and polished over the years. I feel like I'm still learning every day.

Fragrance started as a creative project for me, more than a business. It was a way, when I left corporate fashion design, to explore my creativity. I've always been passionate about scents, since I was a boy. When I started to seriously explore, it brought back so many memories from my childhood, family, experiences and moments in time. I began to compile these as a personal journal and this began the journey to where we are today.

On living in London:
Although I miss New York at times, I love my life in London. I've got a blossoming business and I get to be in one of the greatest cities of the world, really living my dream. I spent nearly 10 years working for other people and this is my baby. I couldn't be happier. I'm always inspired by the city, it seems to never cease it's evolution. Week on week I spot something new that will get my creative juices flowing.


On his favourite scent:
My favourite scent is called Kartushya. It was inspired by love songs that Russian soldiers would sing to their sweethearts when they were going off to war. We tried to blend some very unusual outdoor notes like birch leaf, dill seed & organic black pepper, so it's a kind of masculine and feminine blended aroma. It uses quite herbaceous, woody notes. It's one of the most expensive to produce actually because each ingredient is either rare, organic or fresh. I feel like the smell represents luxury and quality, in a beautifully subtle way.  



On the Jonathan Ward brand:
Jonathan Ward London is now four and a half years old. I'm really proud that we've survived the recession and continued to grow. I truly believe this is down to offering an honest product with the highest quality ingredients. There is no compromise with what we offer. We try to use sustainable materials wherever we can and source everything as locally as possible. I know exactly what goes into each product and that's very important. Everything has to have a point of view, a focus. Because it's got my name on it, nothing is going to go out the door unless it feels like it has some kind of direction and purpose. I want everything I send out into the world to have some meaning. 


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From this Autumn, Jonathan Ward London will be stocked in John Lewis stores across the country. Otherwise, you can see his range at JonathanWardLondon.com with the new season fragrance Orange Opium, inspired by human nature and addiction, launches in September.

And in case you're wondering, I've got the Kartushya candle.