Meet with Daphné Bugey,
the creator of the Soenga perfume.

Based in Lisbon, Daphné Bugey is an independent perfumer, and perfume consultant for Firmenich, whose laboratory is in Paris.

After starting her career in “body care”, she specialized in fine perfumery, still known as alcohol-based perfumery.

Daphné develops fragrances both for large international houses (Dolce & Gabbana, Kenzo, Jean-Paul Gaultier or Hugo Boss) as well as for more niche brands (Le Labo, L’Artisan Parfumeur or Penhaligon’s).


What exactly is your role in the Barro Negro collection?


As part of this first collection, Noé has developed a series of black ceramic objects, including an interior perfume diffuser. I have created the “Soenga”  fragrance to be used with this object. It is a pure, oil-based fragrance.


What sparked your interest in this collaboration?


Personally, I am happy and grateful to have the chance to live in Portugal. So I made an immediate connection with the concept of the MADE IN SITU project.  The idea of collaborating with Portuguese artisans is a great way to get closer to the culture of the country. In particular, the human adventure of MADE IN SITU appealed to me; I was interested in working with Noé, with his team, with the artisans. As soon as Noé told me a little about the story of his collection, the Barro Negro project fascinated me, both because of the ancestral process of firing the pottery in the earth (the Soenga) and because of the black texture of the pieces that it produces. Anyway, I didn’t hesitate for a second to step out of my comfort zone; the idea of exploring something else is always very rewarding creatively.

When I start to create any perfume, I always immerse myself in its context, in the brand, and in this case, that involved interacting with the designer, Noé.

What are the secrets behind the creation of this perfume? How did the collaboration with Noé pan out?


When I start to create any perfume, I always immerse myself in its context, in the brand, and in this case, that involved interacting with the designer, Noé. I listen, we exchange, I do research. Then I ask myself the following questions: what story do I want to tell? What are my sources of inspiration?


As soon as I said yes, we drove off to Molelos to meet the artisans and understand the story behind the collection. During my first visit, I was immediately struck by the poetry of the environment of the ceramicists Xana and Carlos, their house, their garden with aromatic plants such as rosemary and lavender.


Once inside the workshop, the magic happened; I smelt and touched the clay before firing, I discovered the prototypes of the collection and we all exchanged “in situ”. I got to feel everything around me. And then,
I asked to open the oven door, cold. There, I discovered a smell of raw smoke, extremely addictive. Pyrogenic, smoky with notes of camphor, it was like a first creative click. To continue exploring, I smelt through the oven vents; this time it was more subtle smoky, woody nuances that emerged, that made me think of palo santo (a sacred wood from Latin America). The team finally took me to the site where the Soenga was to be held a month later, the burying and the firing of black ceramic pieces by oxygen reduction. It was a beautiful spot, bathed in sunshine with, a little further on, huge eucalyptus and pine trees, aromatic herbs and moss on the rocks. I observed the ferns, the contrast of greenery against the earth and the intense blue sky. A fairly clear idea began to take form: the development of a contrasting note of aromatic smokiness.

Do you have any particular memories of this adventure?


For the Soenga event, I came back to Molelos. The ritual was remarkable, the craftsmen built this oven in the ground to fire certain pieces of the collection. The carbon monoxide escaping from this vegetable oven was very suffocating. But this time I discovered the mix of earth and dried pine needles which cover the natural oven. A smell of sauna, of sweet and resinous wood, hit me. But what really made an impression on me was the fact that the event was taking place on an evening with a full moon. The smoke rising in the moonlit sky gave a spiritual dimension to the event, making it into something like a sacred ancestral ceremony. That reminded me of the origin of the word “perfume” in Latin, literally “by smoke”, like an offering to heaven. I realized that resin incense has an important place in this story.


Can you describe the “Soenga” perfume that you created?


We are on woody, smoky, aromatic notes. The substances and elements which tell this story are: fire, earth, wood, aromatic plants, resin, roots, moss. And to render this atmosphere, I have used the following ingredients: cade and guaiac woods, cedar, patchouli, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, incense, oak and moss.

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