Neanderthal perfume in black and white cases.
Courtesy Neandertal Perfume

Lonneke Gordijn of Studio Drift’s Favorite Perfume

By Aileen Kwun
November 2, 2019
2 minute read

Lonneke Gordijn, co-founder of the Amsterdam-based Studio Drift, tells us about her favorite scent, Neandertal. A “beastly” olfactory creation by artist Kentaro Yamada, it surprised our editor’s nose when Gordijn was wearing it at a recent opening at New York’s Pace Gallery.

“The perfume is part of an art project that was based on how Neanderthals were more intelligent than previously thought—and maybe even more intelligent than the Homo erectus—and how they could have smelled. My friend who made it, Kentaro, is an artist, but also works a lot with porcelain and deeply researched the tools and rituals of the time, like spear-making and firestone-making skills, and developed the bottle using porcelain. And, to find the smell, he did a lot of research into the plants that were available during that time and area; he’s not a ‘perfume maker,’ but rather using scent as a way of exploring how the Neanderthal smelled, and the sophistication of their species.

There are two versions: one in a white bottle and the other in black. I’m in love with the white one. I find it really hard to talk about smell, honestly, but it’s a very specific smell—I liken it to this sort of beastliness of humans. I always feel proud to wear it, because it’s such a distinctive scent, not regular and not sweet like other perfumes. It’s got a muskiness to it. My colleague once said to me, “I can always first smell you, even before you enter the room, and know that you’re there.” I wear it every day. I’ll put it on the moment I leave the house, and then I somehow feel guarded by it. I feel really powerful with it. It goes through your guts—it reaches deeper than something that you just put on. It opens certain senses within you that respond very viscerally, intuitively.

The dark bottle also smells very good: a bit more intense, and also a bit darker, a bit smokier. But that one, I would rather wear at night.”