An architect charged with safeguarding history finds a new inspiration—his nose.
Architect Carlos Huber specializes in historic preservation of all sorts. He recently consulted on the renovation of the 19th-century Rhinelander Mansion on Madison Avenue in New York for Ralph Lauren. And his newest venture melds his talent for safeguarding the past with his passion for scent. After years of studying the art of perfumery in his spare time, in 2007 Huber, 30, met Yann Vasnier, a perfumer in the New York office of Switzerland’s Givaudan fragrance house. Vasnier opened the doors of the company’s lab, and not long after, one of the company’s legendary noses, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, took Huber on as his student for an 18-month crash course. Huber then set about creating his own line, Arquiste, with both Vasnier and Flores-Roux as his noses. Each of Arquiste’s six gender-neutral fragrances comprise an olfactory history lesson, from the citrusy-creamy L’Etrog, an homage to ancient Calabrian harvests, to the amber, leather, and fir–based Aleksandr, meant to evoke the snowy day of the duel that ended the life of the great Russian poet Pushkin. Anima Dulcis, another scent in the line, has its origins in a 17th-century Mexico City convent that Huber came to know well during his graduate-school years. “I found the nuns’ recipe for Mexican hot chocolate, which is infused with jasmine, chiles, and vanilla. The building can’t be restored yet,” he says, offering up a whiff of the fragrance, “but we can capture its smell.”