Earlier this year Almira Armstrong set about decoding the Resort collection – via scent. Working closely with the design team, the LUMIRA founder and candlemaker turned colour palette and texture into top notes and fragrance layerings. The result is an exclusive trio of candles, each one capturing an uplifting mood – from the wildly bright florals of Flower Market, to the warm complexities of Fig Tree and Campfire. For Armstrong, fragrance is an enduring passion: the Sydney-based creative built her business around the idea that scent has a kind of transporting power, one that can shift your mood and unlock memories – and it’s a notion that feels particularly precious right now. Here, Armstrong shares her thoughts on the art of scent and how we can use fragrance to feel good.
You’ve always had a fascination with fragrance and scents – can you tell us what ignited that passion and drove LUMIRA’s success?
“My fascination with scent started when I was two or three years old and playing with Mum’s perfume bottles – she was obsessed with [Yves Saint Laurent’s] Paris and Opium. Over time, I began to connect it with my love of travel and the beauty of the natural environment. Once you’ve experienced the scent of the sun baking the vine-ripened figs in Tuscany, or the tangy sea spray that mists the air as you sail along the Amalfi Coast, you never really forget it.
When I began to build LUMIRA a decade ago, it was important to me to celebrate and preserve the unique fragrance footprint of our planet – this is really at the heart of what we do. To this end, our sustainability principles guide everything we do, from choosing the right ingredients to ensuring our glass and paper packaging is entirely recyclable.”
How did the OROTON collection come to life and why did you feel the collaboration was a good fit?
“OROTON is such an iconic Australian luxury brand, it was truly a privilege to be invited to collaborate on this trio of scents. Working together with the design team, we wanted to capture the essence of OROTON while also complementing the new resort collection. I admire the way the design team approached resort in a very sophisticated way, while also bringing a light touch and a feeling of optimism, which I think we’re all craving right now. We approached the fragrances with a similar juxtaposition in mind, striking a balance between lighter and more opulent notes.
My respect for OROTON goes beyond the aesthetic – I particularly support the company’s commitment to sustainability and the ways in which it is innovating in this area, by working with different fabrics and looking at smarter packaging alternatives. This is something that really resonates with me and with my mission for LUMIRA.”
Tell us about the inspiration behind the collection, what you were hoping to achieve?
“As with all our scents, it always begins with the right inspiration. It goes without saying that I was guided by the design team, who generously shared their moodboards and colour palettes for the resort collection. I quickly understood that colour was an essential element in the collection, particularly those beautiful shades of grass green, turmeric and crisp white, which made such an impression on the runway. We incorporated this palette into the vessels for the candle collection, which also creates a stunning point of difference to our signature black LUMIRA vessels. All the glass is coloured through, which makes it 100% recyclable in normal household recycling.”
And how did that translate into the three beautiful scents?
“Working with the OROTON design team gave me the opportunity to see the season through the designers’ eyes. I learned that the resort runway show was titled The Optimist and, together with my perfumer, we wanted to capture that feeling of positivity in the candles. Although the three scents are all very different, they share a freshness and a sense of ease.
Flower Market is an intoxicating floral that’s bursting with beautiful white blossoms – rose, jasmine, gardenia. We’ve laid them over a velvety bed of oud, sandalwood and patchouli, which gives a beautiful depth and sophistication.
Fig Tree is sweet and comforting, a real feelgood scent, made with coconut and spicy cardamom, cloves and ginger. The namesake fig lends a milky quality, but we’ve incorporated the leaves as well, which gives it a clean and fresh feeling.
Campfire is the sensual one of the three and designed to burn after dark. It has an opulent and almost carnal air about it, with musk and leather wrapped around some quite bold florals like rose and violet.
They each have a burn time of approximately 80 hours, so there is plenty of opportunity to maximise the enjoyment of each.”
We would love to know your tips on how best to choose a scent to match the mood, and your thoughts on using scent to feel good:
“I think scent is often quite underrated in this regard. Although most of us know the power that a particular fragrance can have, we don’t always seek it out or make a deliberate choice to surround ourselves with that scent. The first step is to figure out the kinds of scents that make you feel good as this is unique to each of us. Some people may feel uplifted by boisterous blossom-like florals while others may find that calming sandalwood helps them feel good in the moment. Pay attention to how you feel around different fragrances and at different times of the day. As an analogy, you might listen to one style of music to inspire you in the mornings and something else entirely for an evening with friends. Fragrance can have a similar effect and should be used accordingly.”
Sustainability is an important element to your brand – can you talk us through your philosophy and objectives?
“Our sustainability principles guide everything we do at LUMIRA. Our candles use only natural soy wax, which has a cleaner burn and less smoke compared with many other wax types. The beautiful essential oils that give each candle and perfume oil its unique scent are all ethically sourced. Our suppliers have their own Responsible Sourcing Policies that set high standards for health and safety, environmental, business integrity and social practices. All our vessels are made using a coloured through glass, which is 100% recyclable, and all cardboard packaging and materials are also 100% recyclable. In addition to this, for the past three years we’ve partnered with the Royal Botanic Gardens on the creation of three candles inspired by their three Sydney-based gardens. Proceeds from each candle are donated directly to the Garden, to support the essential science and conservation work being done by Royal Botanic Gardens around the world, an important mission that is very close to our hearts.”
How are you maximising your mornings and getting your day off to a positive start? Do you have certain rituals?
“I’m not really one for long or complicated rituals – they must be simple, effective and fit into my life as a mother and business owner. Equally, I believe that almost anything can become a ritual if you practice it regularly and mindfully. For me, it’s about taking time to bookend my day, so I always start with coffee at my desk in the morning and I end the day by lighting a LUMIRA candle of an evening. The key is to just take a moment to consider what you’re doing, rather than just rushing through life like a to-do list.”
Lastly, how are you remaining charged and inspired right now?
“That’s the challenge for most of us right now, isn’t it? I’ve been reading a lot of books, practicing meditation and making the most of my daily walks to try to explore a different street or part of my neighbourhood. Dancing around the house with my kids also keeps me charged. For me, the focus has been on finding those moments of calm and optimism in life, which also naturally extends to my business.”