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For years I have been working on creative projects with the Acqua dell’Elba perfume house.

It’s a new challenge every time, but the making of the latest commercial has undoubtedly been one of the most interesting.

In fact it involved finding a way of rendering an idea visually: a fragrance that would be music too.

“Essenza” commercial

A first attempt, filmed with live action on the beach called the Spiaggia delle Ghiaie, was unable to get across the concept of music turning into fragrance and making the air heady with the sea.

Acqua dell’Elba fragrances

So we turned to images and drawing.

As soon as they talked to me about this commercial, I was able to picture the scene clearly in my mind, with a fragrance turning into music and vice versa, in an intimately synesthetic relationship.

So I drew the storyboard, with the two musicians playing their instruments, from which a cloud of perfume the colour of aqua green wafted. Now the music and the fragrance had a space of their own…

colour becoming music

In this case colour becomes a signal. The whole atmosphere is drawn in shades of grey-blue until this intense colour arrives, brought by the music, which takes over the scene visually. It is the perfume, and under its influence the sea in the distance also rediscovers its identity and colour: it is the fragrance of the sea.

The place where the scene is set is the Spiaggia delle Ghiaie, a shingle beach considered to be a place of myth, a stopover for the Argonauts on their voyage in search of the golden fleece. What better place to put a piano and play a timeless piece of music on the seashore?

The Ghiaie beach in the island of Elba

A piece of music created especially for Acqua dell’Elba by the saxophonist and composer Jacopo Taddei and played by him with the pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell.

I pictured a poetic and sensual animated story, where vision, hearing and smell would all be involved.

So I proposed making a video in stop motion, which would therefore be a montage of many drawings and thus maintain the painterly effect in the commercial.

Fundamental to achieving this has been the collaboration with the creative agency mammafotogramma, to whom we immediately turned for help with the graphic style and the final rendering of the video. A piece of real teamwork!

The storyboard of the stop motion project

The source of inspiration in imagining the video was the great artist William Kentridge, both for his use of drawing and the stop motion technique and for his ability to evoke profoundly human sensations and emotions.

William Kentridge

And in this video different levels of perception and feeling had to coexist: from listening to music to imagining a scent, seeing a colour and sensing the sea, which at the end turns from background into protagonist.

The inspiration beyond the project

And that is just what these 15 seconds are intended to convey: the enchantment of the sea carried by music that becomes fragrance…

If you want to know the story behind this picture you can see it here:

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