Deep Smoke

The Design of Fragrances From The Forest

Sometimes, it’s a ritual.

A gathering of clans,
prayers and
reaching to another place,
the plane of the unseen.

Sometimes, it’s just fire, smoke and the vapors of translation —
from woods and grasses and rotted roots that, ablaze, send their scents on the wind.

Deep Smoke
Dzong incense stupa, Bhutan

I tend to think of smoke as eminently ritualistic —
and that comes from long journeys to places where
the sway of the censure, the fronds of incense
fill the air of a sanctified place with an unearthly light —
dust-borne smoke, the particulate of
wood and rooted dust floating on the air,
a scented ash — that scent of fire.

Deep Smoke

Fire casts a fragrance
like a prayer on the wind; and
for my experience, it’s a string of notes that —
high and low — the high acidity of pine and
madrona leaves and the low blood notes of pitch,
the transporting fluid of trees — takes me far into memory:
forested kingdoms,
lofty ramparts and remote palaces,
deserted kingdoms, windswept crags
misted valleys.

Deep Smoke
Sentinel Guardhouse, Dzong Overlook, Bhutan

High in the Himalaya,
sitting in the meditative rhythmic quiet of deep,
droning monks in their monasteries,
the smoky scent holds in the air like a mystical cloud —
songs emanate like waves on the wind —
and through it, light filters, cathedral-like in
the dense spirituality of
the sancta sanctorum.
Deep Smoke

Deep scent fills the air — like a fog,
misted corridors, clouded meditation halls,
luminous alcoves and altar spaces.
I’ve smelled that woody layering — that hangs on as a glazed polish
like deep dirt,
cracked pine,
the yellow-needled Ponderosa,
the cool prussian-blue of the Evergreen,
the Cypress cleaved.

Deep Smoke

That smoke carries in the air like a mystical ship,
flowing out.
Pitch acts as the concretion — the knot that tunes
the round of fragrance.

Splitting timber,
the crack smacks the air
with the dust of wood powdered —

Deep Smoke

adrift in the air —
and on the edge, a palette of pitch, like a fire-starter; and when lit, a black curling smoke.

As a designer,
the journey of place will be always about where you’ve been.
And what you have seen.
It’s hardly a book-wandering,
arm-chair study;
being there, scent drifts like a memory recalled —
and that can make a space become place.

Waxed surfaces, cold-rolled steel, raw timbers, candlelight,
the breeze coming into the place —
lakeside or sea, scene.
They tinge the storytelling.
A place that was once a garage,
a hayloft,
a machine shop, produce
or flower market —
each will lay the tracks of
the where and what it once was,
and how new that telling in
a transformed environment.

Story design in place made —
and what memories in scent recalled, designed and installed.

The journey of life might come down to this:
What have you seen?
And what have you smelled?

Tim | GIRVINVancouver, British Columbia

Girvin BrandQuest®