KANDL-Artistique is a beautiful distraction that takes us into a world of scents, illuminators and indulgences and keeps us enthralled for hours. It hit me the moment I walked through the glass door. This is not a typical Yorkville boutique that I can peer into and depart. I am drawn in by the exquisite creations in all manner of glass, metal and porcelain vessels and the delicious aroma that floats through the air.
“May I offer you coffee, tea, Artesian water?” asks Louise Abela, the Retail Manager, who will be leading me through the intriguing process of choosing my own scents and incorporating the precious oils into a personal trophy. The cacophony of late afternoon traffic on Avenue Road has vanished, as I happily relax in the café section of this pretty townhouse, sipping a perfect espresso.
Now we enter the Lab, and my personal, customized adventure begins. The workspace is a lovely marble counter with carefully tended plants in a center well. My intrepid guide Louise, ushers me through the wilderness of 300 ingredients that include 100 base notes, 100 middle/heart notes and then the unique top notes. She fills a glass vial with coffee beans for me to sniff and clear my smell-overload. A brilliant idea. Each group of about five oils is splashed on a blotting stick and offered to me to be evaluated by my sense of like/don’t like. Let’s try B4: creamy and nutty, a little sweetness from pear and plum and as it dries down, you get coconut, lily of the valley. Yes, this goes into the “like” category. I close my eyes and smell B5: smoked vanilla, black sea salt and some jasmine, silver birch, leather and patchouli. Don’t like. B5 is too manly for me. And so, it goes. I try B2: Mandarin Orange, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Vanilla Orchid and Sandalwood. I consider T5: fresh and clean, Jasmine, Waterlily, Violet leaf, driftwood, Coastal Moss, a little bit of Musk.
As I continue my daunting sensory journey through 125 combinations, I am surprised by a surge of calm and wellbeing. My decisions have resulted in a very pleasing blend of notes, and I am excited and mildly apprehensive. Next, I choose a classic gold container. According to the formula of my choices, a particular wick is recommended and that is installed before the wax and oils are carefully poured in, stirred, and put away to “cure” for about half an hour. At this point guests can enjoy pre-ordered tea service for two or sparkling wines. I take this opportunity to admire the gorgeous displays of designer collections in the shop at the front, from Kandl to Baobab, Fornasetti and L’Objet, among others. Wherever the eye falls, there is something exotic to view.
Over the past year, Louise tells me, KANDL has hosted Zoom parties in Canada and the U.S. for folks doing exactly what I’ve been doing here. Supplies are mailed to them, and their choices are registered. Imagine their delight when they receive their beautifully wrapped package in the mail. This is perfect for bridal parties too.
Mission accomplished. I leave carrying my personally labeled, personally scented candle as well as an impulse purchase of a box of gorgeous purple tapers. I smile all the way home, oblivious to the frosty gusts of wind, still enjoying the sensory party in my nostrils. Later that evening, I unpack my prize and inhale all its wonderful nuances.
B4, M3, T4: Vanilla Orchid, Sandalwood, Lily of the Valley. Pineapple, Mango and Jasmine, Peony, Oakmoss and Cedar wood. All my favorite scents captured in a candle with a label that reads: Made With Love for Sara Waxman.
Sara Waxman is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.