Interview with Samuel Ross and Acqua Di Parma

Acqua di Parma has just announced a reimagining of its signature fragrance in collaboration with Samuel Ross. Aptly named Colonia Limited Edition, designed by Samuel Ross, The release consists of three fragrances: Sun_Rise_Yellow, Grass_Blade_Green and Ultra_Orange, all of which are rendered in their respective shades, providing a refreshing update to Acqua di Parma’s usual aesthetic.

With a rich history of luxury fragrances, Acqua di Parma is a symbol of Italian savoir-faire and sophistication. On the other hand, Samuel Ross is a young British designer, appreciated for his provocative art and industrial design. One might wonder how the two sides, both seemingly far-fetched in terms of style and demographics, came together in this refreshingly unprecedented collaboration.

“Their typography and choice of colors made me notice their concession to Selfridges,” recalls the founder of A-COLD-WALL* of his first impression of the luxury Italian brand. “Consistency in their collection and branding felt controlled, minimal and well thought out. I then became familiar with their range by browsing and trying the products in their monoshops as well as through the Selfridges concession.” Even before getting to know Acqua di Parma, Ross admits that he has respected Maison for a long time. “They have built a work dynamic that balances the tension between preserving tradition and expanding into new.”

“It’s much more natural to build a bond with a potential collaborator who shares a similar point of view.”

The designer first collaborated with Acqua di Parma when the brand provided its fragrances for Ross Hublot’s Big Bang Tourbillon installation. “From there I connected with Paola, the Maison’s nose, and we bonded quickly due to our mutual vulnerability.” Ross explains that “it’s much more natural to bond with a potential collaborator who has a similar outlook – it’s a meeting of different generations who have similar expectations of what details and craftsmanship it should be.”

When asked about his thoughts on collaborating with such a historic name, Ross says, “Opening the first chapter of the partnership was revealing – there’s a shared desire to shake up Maison.”

According to Ross, the process of re-imagining Acqua di Parma’s signature fragrance was very rigorous. Due to his obsession with detail, a huge part of the initial planning stage was devoted to prototyping. To that end, the designer was grateful to Maison for trusting and understanding his creative process, as “not all partners or product developers care so much about it.”

One of the main challenges Ross faced in reinterpreting such an iconic product was identifying different areas where he could experiment. “Our first product range was just the beginning of the partnership. We focused both on perfecting the bottle and on the impact that Acqua Di Parma has on the physical space through store design, campaigns and installation.”

For the bottle design, Ross focused on downsizing, specifically downsizing the original labeling system. “We built our own typeface and numbering system by introducing flat primary colors. The colors reflect the architectural work of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, which summarizes the links between European cities. The thought of frames, scaffolding and temporary façades is also filtered into the language of industrial product design.” Since then, the designer has taken care to ensure that all intricacies are taken into account, “from the temperature of the image in correlation with the concept of sunrises, to the silhouette of the bottle and the type fragmentation that occurs when looking through the bottle.”

As for what influenced Ross’s choice to explore the connections between European cities for design, he explained that it was due to the amount of time he spent working back and forth between his London studio and Milan atelier. “Moving between the two cities so often made me notice the differences and similarities between urban planning.” The influences were evident – while the iconic Art Deco bottle of Acqua di Parma remained, they were rendered in hyper-flat and ultra-pigmented shades that nod to London’s urban and brutalist aesthetic. The color of the product has been adjusted many times to resonate with the image of nature that the perfume conveys.

When asked if there will be more collaborations with Acqua di Parma, Ross replied: “We have a clear road map of what we want to convey over the next few years. The environment is key. Hypervisuality is also key.”

As an ode to cross-border creativity, the collection will be presented in a series of international retail spaces designed by Rossa studio, SR_A and Acqua di Parma. To commemorate the launch, a special edition 300-piece collector’s bottle will be available today at Selfridges London and selected Acqua di Parma stores. Each in-store purchase will come with an art publication featuring exclusive artwork and behind-the-scenes footage that contributed to this collaboration. The Colonia Limited Edition, designed by Samuel Ross will be available worldwide via the official Acqua di Parma website starting March 15.

Elsewhere in fashion, La Nausée takes over the DIJONSS Bone Soda store with archive designer “BAZAAR”.

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