The poet and novelist Walter de la Mare described two different types of imagination: childlike and boylike. The former is characterized by a sense of creativity that is untethered from reality, a “waking vision”. The latter is of an “intellectual, analytical type”, a result of interference from the external world.

These imaginative types result in two worldviews, de la Mare writes, where “one knows that beauty is truth, the other reveals that truth is beauty." This #Books and Looks draws on this idea. The book is Unintended Beauty by Alastair Wiper and the perfume is L’Ombre Des Merveilles by Hermès.

Wiper’s photographs of industrial factories across the world explore the accidental aesthetics of these spaces. In the foreword, Marcelo Gleiser, a theoretical physicist, writes “In balance there is beauty and, one hopes, a proximity to truth… proportion seems to be a key to some secret knowledge that combines an increase in efficiency and output with unintended beauty.”

The buildings, machines, pipes and wires are shown as curves, cubes, circles and straight lines. They are human abstractions, proportionate representations of reality. Perhaps, to many they seem an analytical construction of the world, but they are also deeply imaginative spaces: conceptual as well as concrete.

Hermès have described the fragrance, which is the newest version of their Des Merveilles collection, as having “the magical power to see the world from new and marvellous angles. It is the key to wonders, the origin of stars in broad daylight.”

The rocking rounded bottle recalls a magnifying glass, an invitation to look closer, or inspect with a transformed vision. Although L’Ombre Des Merveilles is an oriental woody perfume, the fragrance opens with a light fruity hesperidium accord. This then mellows into slightly smokier black tea and a subtle incense note emerges. However, the perfume is not overwhelmingly brooding - the base of tonka bean draws together these two aspects adding balance and harmony.

It is, in Hermès’ own words, “a captivating scent whose shadow highlights the deep radiance of the world.”

Unintended Beauty is published by Hatje Cantz and is available here.

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