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Searching for the essence
Rome - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - He is considered as the most refined and exclusive perfumer in the world. Yet for him, Lorenzo Villoresi, 48 years, Florentine, the search for the best blends of essences seems almost not to be a job, but above all an abiding passion. Sales for 2004 are forecast as bordering on 2 million euro. Not a lot, if compared with the turnover of international giants in the cosmetics field, but a great deal when calculating that Lorenzo Villoresi has only been in business for little more than ten years, and that it all began by chance.
How did it all begin?
"For me - says Lorenzo Villoresi - it was a passion, a hobby, something that accompanied and completed my activities as a researcher".
"In actual fact I am a philosopher. I took my degree in ancient philosophy with Professor Adorno, here in Florence. And my aspiration was to follow the path of research that I had begun. Because of my studies I began to travel so as to become familiar with the original texts of ancient philosophers: Jerusalem, Cairo, the Middle East. In all those places I was fascinated by the sense of time of the populations there, quite different from ours. I began to buy spices, aromas and essences and bring them back to Italy, really just for a pure and simple personal pleasure."
Taking the leap from philosopher to entrepreneur is not commonplace. How did it happen?
"Almost by chance. I came to the conclusion that the West had almost forgotten one of its five senses, the sense of smell, and with this, the sensuality that goes with it. I began to collect all sorts of essences and spices and also texts dealing with this subject. Friends who knew about my hobby began to ask for my advice, suggestions, some blends of special aromas to give scent to their houses or for personal use. Then one day - it must have been at the end of the Eighties - a friend who worked at Fendi, the famous fashion house, came to see me. He told me that Fendi was interested in potpourri and scented candles. I liked the idea of creating a product to exploit the experience and the knowledge I had by then accumulated. I agreed, and set to work".
So this is how the firm of Lorenzo Villoresi began?
"Yes, even if the road was long and also complicated. I felt strange in my role as perfumer. In all my life I had never put foot in a perfumery, and here I was preparing aromas and fragrances. I had a job as a researcher, and here I was blending scents from the East. It was difficult to explain all of this to friends, to my family and also to myself. Finally, without ever having made the decision, I found myself to be an artisan.
Do you see yourself today as an artisan or an entrepreneur?
"I still feel I am an artisan, in the oldest sense of the word, as one who possesses the art and technique to carry out activities. Even though from a structural point of view we are now a firm. From potpourri and candles, we went on to perfumes and finally also to accessories, to making containers".
Your products are considered not only to be the most refined in the world but also the most beautiful. Would you say that this is because of dedicated marketing research?
"No, at least not in the strictest sense. Let's say that there was a day when I said to myself: we have a good perfume, where shall we place it now? So it also became necessary to produce vases, attractive containers made from silver, glass, alabaster, leather, in particular to join up my experience to that of the Tuscan and Florentine artisans of long ago".
So your workshop turned into an industry?
"I don't think we shall ever turn into an industry. Of course, today we export more than half of our production, but my basic desire is always the same: to carry out research. Very soon we will be expanding our space right here in the heart of Florence, in Via de'Bardi. The idea is to create a centre for research and cultural exchange, not only just to produce perfumes".
From philosopher to artisan perfumer and now changing again to researcher?
"Yes. I have never stopped my research work and the entire world and its way of life lying behind scents and essences continue to be filled to the brim with fascination, with so much waiting to be discovered".
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