Under the microscope: Interview with Marc vom Ende - The fourth dimension of sensuality

Mar 26, 2013
Marc vom Ende developed the fragrances for the new perfume atomisation system in the S-Class. The 44 year-old is a senior perfume specialist for the fragrance manufacturer Symrise in Lower Saxony, heads its perfumery school and is a member of the jury for the innovation awards of the German perfumery retailers association. We spoke to him about his creations for Mercedes-Benz.
Mr vom Ende, you have already created world-famous perfumes such as "IcebergHomme" or "Alain Delon". Was it a particular challenge to create fragrances for a vehicle this time, for the new S-Class?
When I apply a body perfume I am expressing my personality and the mood I happen to be in. The requirement is similar for the interior smell of the S-Class: here too we should reflect the character of the individual driving the car, and also the atmosphere of the car itself. It was fundamentally important to me that the fragrances reflect certain personalities and characters. I did not want bland fragrances without a clear profile, but rather distinctive fragrances as an expression of a distinctive personality – in keeping with the ideals of the Mercedes-Benz brand. 
How does a perfumery expert tackle this task, how were the perfume compositions for Mercedes-Benz created?
We always work with images that inspire us, and which we try to recreate with fragrances. As perfumers we know the entire range of available raw materials, and experience tells us which combinations lead to what results, creating certain harmonies. We gradually approach this ideal image. 
When I started the development work I paid a visit to the interior designers in Sindelfingen. We had a very interesting exchange of views which caused me to deviate from the approach I had envisaged. Originally I wanted to work with the smell of leather, but then realised that the car itself smells of leather, and that my fragrances must go hand in hand with this. A visit to the research workshops allowed me to see the brand from a completely different point of view, and gave me new ideas for suitable fragrances. The presentation of the F800, for example, inspired me to create the perfume DOWNTOWN MOOD. The car is so delicate in structure, so light and airy, and I went home with the idea of this perfume in my mind. 
So when creating the perfumes you took your inspiration from the interior of the S‑Class?
Yes, I already got to know the S-Class during an early development phase. But far more important to me was the brand itself and the working approach of the designers. I was very impressed with the care taken when selecting the individual materials and colour combinations. This gave me a new stimulus and point of view for my own assignment. 
Have you had an opportunity to experience the perfume atomiser in the new S‑Class 'live'?
Yes, I was able to test the perfume atomiser in an S-Class, and during the creative work I also had a portable atomiser available. Being able to test the perfume atomiser was extremely important to ensure that the intensity of the fragrance is at the right level. We initially work with strips of paper, but the result produced by the technology used in the S-Class is different. In this case the perfume reveals its entire sensuality. 
Could you briefly characterise the four S-Class fragrances – FREESIDE MOOD, DOWNTOWN MOOD, SPORTS MOOD and NIGHTLIFE MOOD?
Lightness predominates in FREESIDE MOOD, with pleasant, high-quality citrus touches. The fragrance is very balanced without excessive nuances, and therefore does not polarise opinion. It is unobtrusive yet present. DOWNTOWN MOOD outstandingly suits the interior, and has a floweriness with a subdued metallic effect. Warm, musky nuances make the fragrance sexy, and thanks to a touch of powdery sensuousness, it is the most feminine of all the perfumes. After a while the fragrance has a very atmospheric effect on the interior, without really being prominent. During the test drives I absolutely fell in love with this fragrance. SPORTS MOOD enlivens with a pleasant, natural freshness reminiscent of young light-green leaves, rounded off with slightly flowery nuances. And right from the start, NIGHTLIFE MOOD reminds one of opening a box of expensive cigars bedded in an aroma of warm, luxurious wood. A touch of ambergris accentuates the high quality of this fragrance. I associate NIGHTLIFE MOOD with the image of a heavy leather armchair in front of the fire in a room panelled with exotic wood, a glass of brandy on the side table (lending a fruity touch) and a cigar.