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When Ryan Met Kilian: An Intertwining Tale Of Home And Fragrance


To certain interior-minded members of the style set, Ryan Korban’s name precedes him. At 28, the designer who laid out Alexander Wang’s New York store on Mercer Street is also the man Jessica Stam, James Franco, Vanessa Traina, and Natasha Poly call when they’re in need of a specific sconce, an apartment overhaul, or the perfect lamp to tie a room together. His beauty expertise is less well known, although Korban certainly has opinions when it comes to home fragrance. “An interior space cannot be a successful one without a distinct scent. It’s what takes you from looking at a space to experiencing a space,” he says. It’s no wonder the sparks flew when Korban was introduced to cognac scion and perfume purveyor Kilian Hennessy last year through mutual friends. Like-minded in their aesthetic ventures, the two men got to work almost immediately on Ryan Korban by Kilian, a limited-edition blackcurrant, geranium, rose absolue, patchouli, and cedarwood-scented candle set in hand-painted, matte glass and capped with a black, silver-lined shagreen (a kind of stingray) top. The black glass vessel is filled with white aromatic wax, while the white vessel is conversely filled with black. Here, catches up with the new collaborators to talk keeping it classy with scented candles, and why any time is a good time to burn one down.

What’s the key to avoiding that stereotypical cloying and altogether outdated home fragrance model that favors overbearing distillation over something more subtle? Is it a question of specific notes or more an issue of formulation?
Ryan Korban: “I think you can never go wrong with something that has a rose base. I say this because I think rose has such a variety of scent. It can smell good with more of a classic light approach, and it can also be amazing with a deeper, spicy approach. I think the key is to always mix a little bit of the dark and spicy into more commercial scents to avoid a ‘Yankee [Candle]‘ situation.”
Kilian Hennessy: “The only way to keep it chic is to use beautiful and qualitative materials. All notes are possible [with home fragrances] as long as they are being worked in a very luxurious way, the correct use, and the highest quality—which oftentimes means expense.”

Is there a certain scented candle etiquette in your estimation as far as when, and how often, these things should be used?
RK: “I think anytime is appropriate [to burn a scented candle], and the more often the better. The scent begins to stick to your home. When I walk in the door it’s the first thing I do before I take off my shoes.”
KH: “If I could, I would have candles burning 24/7!!! I don’t use the same scent for every room. My bedroom smells of Tuberose (I love the narcotic, almost erotic feeling it brings), and my living room smells of Oud and Patchouli and Lavender (I like the elegance of these three candles combined).”

How did you come up with the scent combination here? Were you inspired by anything particular?
RK: “My design approach is really based on the idea of mixing something romantic and something sexy. This is an approach I take to any creative project I am working on. I really wanted all the notes in this fragrance to represent that idea.”
KH: “Ryan wanted since day one a candle that would evolve around rose and amber. I think what he really wanted was to achieve a delicate balance between fragility and strength, between feminine and masculine. In the end we created a scent that I feel achieves all that but through a very delicate balance of rose and leather.”

As this project boasts a very important design component, was it important that the candle base blend into any well-appointed decor?
KH: “I wanted an object that would reflect [Ryan's] world and be very far from existing candle holders. That’s why I proposed him a vase as a candle glass.”
RK: “We really wanted the packaging to be an object that you would keep after you finished burning the candle. The shagreen and the matte glass were all decisions based on creating something that felt like a beautiful object.”

Ryan Korban by Kilian, $165, available at Aedes de Venustas beginning November 2012.

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