The practice blog

Heart of a scent: GALLIVANT perfume studio visit

As part of looking at creative industries, I have been introducing my son who is now starting GCSE prep, to how the world works. It was a remarkable experience and a pleasure to have been given the opportunity to visit Nick Steward in the GALLIVANT workshop/studio in Dalston. 

GALLIVANT is a multi-award-winning independent perfume range, founded and created by Nick Steward, with a collection of travel-inspired playful, thoughtful, unisex fragrances. I first became interested last year when I started wearing Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, which had been gifted to me, after the word-of-mouth recommendation by my colleague Lisa Harmey. Los Angeles and Tel Aviv appeal to me as I have always favoured bright, fresh and flowery scents. Perhaps it is because I am Asian, or maybe thanks to my architectural training, the musky or heavy Oriental scents do not suit me.  When it comes to design and art, I prefer the urban, modern and minimalist touch.

The collection has been named after evocative cities. As a travel lover and designer,  I have a wandering spirit. Unlike mass-market, mass-produced fragrances from big French chains or fashion houses, GALLIVANT is eclectic yet international. My family and I support local acts, writers, brands, bookshops and products. We’d always rather buy soaps, jams, candles or cakes from a market stall or a High Street indie than from renowned brands or franchises because we believe in ethical, slow and sustainable industries. Seeing the GALLIVANT studio and packing room in person was meaningful because we feel that we are a part of that community. We were already in London, albeit at the opposite end to Dalston. You can immediately appreciate that Nick takes an artisanal or craftsman’s approach to the creation of these unique fragrances. Each one is a work of art.

Nick came from a Languages background, having graduated from Edinburgh in French and Russian. Scents were like music and languages, he said, because they involved fine-tuning and being able to tell nuances apart. Scents were sensory. He also made a reference to slow cooking which clarified how both thought and time improve the end product. Nick’s top tip for my son was for him to follow his passion and only do what he really loves because only love can drive one’s passion to keep any business going. Very scents-ible advice, indeed.