Q&A with Michael Isted, The Herball

For the launch event of our two new perfumes Scherzo & Tender back in September of 2017 we had to pleasure to work with Michael Isted from The Herball who worked on a culinary interpretation of our new scents. We sat down with Michael to find out more about The Herball and about this partnership.

Q: Firstly, would you be able to introduce yourself and The Herball? What is your background and what drew you to botanicals?

A: I’m Michael Isted, I started The Herball in 2013, I wanted to create a platform in which I could show people how to connect and integrate the nature that surrounds them into their lives in quite contemporary and exciting ways. I’ve worked in food & beverage pretty much my whole life and was always interested in the healing power of plants, I gave up the day job and studied nutrition, then did a BsC in Herbal Medicine and set up The Herball whilst I was studying.

Q: For the launch of Scherzo and Tender you created two bespoke cocktails inspired by the perfumes. Could you talk us through the process of creating these?

A: So we worked through the individual scents / perfumes used for each perfume and looked at flavours / plants that would compliment these fragrances, we make fragrances too the art of creating a serve is very much like constructing a perfume.  We also read Tender Is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald, its beautifully poetic about the plants and gardens and was a huge inspiration for the scent and the the accompaneing serves.

Q: You also created canapés for our launch. Did you follow the same process for these?

A: Our friend & colleague Justin Horne created the canapés, it was similar process yes but with more direct link to the drinks.

Q: Mixology and perfumery, in a way, are very similar – Would you agree?

A: As mentioned above yes there is a very similar skill, although I wish more bartenders and perfume makers would spend a little more time understanding their ingredients a little better in their natural environment.

Q: You seem to be very passionate about working with local herbs and products. Why do you have this passion?

A: I love working with local products but I’m also a big fan of the more exotic spices, resins, flowers and herbs, nature and perfume is a form of time travel, these plants can take you to some very interesting places, past, present, future, parallell….The local herbs are a great way of understanding your local environment on a deeper level, its also a great form of grounding in a particular environment, time or place.

Q: Do you just focus on British botanicals and herbs or do you also go exploring for new materials when you travel?

A: Always exploring and working with new & older materials, got a thing for palms right now, I’m educating myself around the edible and non edible palms of the world...

Q: You talk about finding elements for your creations in urban spaces. Is this urban aspect important for your work?

A: Sure is, its key for health and happiness that even in your urban environments you have access to nature, wherever you are you will have access even if it is only small tree or park. Nature is dynamic, strong, adaptable and exists in the most hostile environments. Nature acts as a portal, the plants can open up more expansive environments even in our cities, get out there you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Q: What inspires you when creating your products?

A: Nature itself, the plants teach me so much and then studying the effect these plants have on people is also super interesting and what plants people are attracted too and vice versa. Like scent its so interesting which perfumes / fragrances attract who and why….

Q: You have worked with a number of really interesting brands. Is the identity of these brands important to you?

A: Yes it is and also the creative people and the people who represent these brands, its about building a community, grass roots, a mycelial network or friends from all identities, so we work with tiny brands, individuals, large corporates, everyone, we all share the common interest of wanting to be closer or to work with nature in some way.

Q: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Is there any “love potions” you would recommend?

A: Yes I have a few recipes, which can be found in my book, which comes out in February. Find the book on Amazon.