Conversations with an Artist: Ineke Ruhland
We were introduced to Ineke through a friend who is a huge fan of Ineke's craft. As we learned about her classical training at ISIPCA in Versailles, France, the only university-level perfumery school in the world, we were even more intrigued. Ineke worked in the fragrance industry and was drawn to the creative role of "professional nose" before she began her formal studies. She moved to San Francisco to pursue the development of her own perfume stories. Her scents are really special and complex and her packaging pretty fab, too.
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
I started working in marketing for a fragrance house in Europe, first in the Netherlands and then in the UK, and finally France. I was always a little jealous of the perfumers—we had a team of them to work on our clients' fragrance projects—because they actually got to make something so compelling out of whole cloth, so to speak. Finally, it occurred to be that I could ask to become a perfumer, and to my surprise, my employers said yes. That was the start of an exciting three-year training period in France.
What themes do you pursue in your craft?
My fragrances are often inspired by particular settings and moments in time. For example, ‘Field Notes from Paris’ was created to capture my years working in Paris with its notes of tobacco, suede and bees-waxed furniture. Sometimes fragrances are just created around a really good ingredient, like the big gardenia note of ‘Hothouse Flower’.
Tell us about what influences the direction for the perfumes you create.
Influences come from many places: botany, art, literature, popular culture, and particularly historic perfumes and the current work of my fellow perfumers. Perhaps the single most important influence for me is our own little scented garden in the middle of San Francisco. We are always on the lookout for unusual scent plants at our favorite nurseries around the Bay Area like Annie’s Annuals and Sloat’s.
How has your work developed over time?
I started off loving all scents fresh and clean, and have gradually become richer and more complex in my approach to fragrance creation. Also, I previously relied more on happy accidents in my iterative creation process, but am now much more likely to fully imagine the finished fragrance at the beginning, and then work towards it.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
Great raw materials are what really make the difference: flowers, fruits, spices, woods, resins and more. Also, a very precise weighing scale that works in grams to three decimal points is a perfumer’s best friend. Clients expect a fragrance to smell exactly the same from one year to the next, and just counting out drops from a pipette is unreliable.
Do you collect anything?
If you asked my husband, he would say I collect magazines but that’s not intentional. I just like to give them a second glance before throwing them out, but then I don’t get to it and they build up. I’m not a big collector of things, but I do have mini collections of objects for the home. For example, I love mid-century glassware with a touch of glamour—think martini glasses with gold rims and smokey black Lusterware highballs. I also love handcrafted ceramic vases and anything Fornasetti.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
I recently revisited the movie “Perfume” based on the book of the same name by Patrick Suskind, a grand classic that everyone in the perfume industry has read at one time or another. The main protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, was played by Ben Whishaw who has gone on to roles in the most recent James Bond films and also the excellent "London Spy". Although the book and movie take a strangely gothic turn towards the end, I would still recommend them to anyone interested in the history of French perfumery.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?If only I could go back and talk to my younger self—that bit of magical thinking often occurs to me. I would tell myself to not be so cautious, to plow in earlier even when I didn’t feel fully ready. Perfection is the enemy of creativity. Oh, and to buy Apple stock to fund my work.
Come check out Ineke's scents in the shop or call us and we'll help you with a purchase—they're layered with amazing top, middle and base notes of 30-60+ ingredients each. Our fave picks:
Balmy Days & Sundays, Field Notes from Paris and Hothouse Flower, each 75ml is $110 or try the Alphabet Sampler of 8 1.5ml perfumes for $25.
Poet's Jasmine 75ml or 15ml and Sweet William 15ml only, each 75ml is $78 and 15ml is $28 or try the Scent Library of 5 Floral Curiosities 1.5ml perfumes for $25. We also have a special holiday bundle of 4 15ml perfumes for $75.
If you'd like more information about Ineke's perfumes, please do get in touch, email@example.com or 415-569-4383.
Until next time,
Bonnie & Jeffrey