RG Insights: BYREDO

Ben Gorham was born in Sweden to an Indian mother and a Canadian father. Raised solely by his mother, Gorham would eventually relocate to Toronto where he developed a deep love of basketball. Pursuing a dream at playing professionally, Gorham moved back to Stockholm, however despite being a Swedish native he encountered complications in acquiring his European passport, and was unable to secure his rookie contracts. Being back in Sweden and unable to return to Canada, Gorham switched gears and found a new passion in creative expression, deciding soon after to attend the Stockholm Art Institute for fine arts.

It was at this time when Gorham would meet famed perfumer Pierre Wulff in a chance encounter in 2004. Gorham moved from paintings to fragrances with no formal training, but with a reimagined vision of what fragrance creation could look like; no doubt inspired by his dinner conversation with Wulff. A trip to his mother’s hometown on the outskirts of Mumbai, and being subject to its familiar aromas of incense and spices would solidify Gorham’s resolve to embrace fragrance as his medium.

The trip brought back all kinds of memory, largely through the smell. That was the spark for me. I wanted to create a fragrance that evoked the feeling there. The beginning of the project was very self-indulgent. I wasn’t thinking commercially, but I enjoyed it so much, I felt the need to create a business structure so I could keep on doing it.

- Ben Gorham

His ambition to “translate memories and emotions into product experiences” formed an early basis for Byredo’s first line, which landed soon after the brand’s initial launch in 2006. Fragrances were informed by Gorham’s multi-national identity, childhood memories and experiences with the natural world — for a more nostalgic approach to luxury that started simply with Gorham’s notebook and a remembered moment from the past. His very first scent, “Green,” was modelled after the way he remembered his father smelling as a child.

Now sold in over 40 countries worldwide, Byredo’s line includes fragrances, skincare essentials and everyday comforts like scented candles infused with his personal touch. The label recently partnered with IKEA last November for a collection of 13 scented candles after its limited capsule, Cactus Jack for Byredo in partnership with Travis Scott.

Much like with the fragrance (and much like the rest of our work), it’s about this idea of creating something truly timeless, which I know sounds like a cliché because I’m imagining a lot of people say that. But it’s really about looking at what a 100-year horizon looks like. We apply that approach to everything we do.

- Ben Gorham

Byredo has since expanded to the realm of covetable accessories, like handbags, eyewear and jewelry. Gorham’s vision for the brand was and continues to be based on inclusivity, a byproduct of his mixed heritage and unusual status in an industry typically dominated by pedigreed houses. In stark comparison to its stripped back packaging, Byredo sets itself apart with a diverse set of transportive fragrances. This juxtaposition makes sense for a brand named after the old English word “redolence,” which simply translates to “sweet-smelling perfume.”

You can shop Byredo’s classic lineup of fragrances, skincare and at-home essentials, now at Roden Gray.

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