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Anouk Gania's immersive world

Maria Kambourakis takes us home thanks to the power of her scented candles inspired from Greece

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Photo: Ashley Loh-Smith

28 December 2016

Our ability to smell is perhaps the least appreciated amongst our five senses, yet we've all had that stirring moment of walking past someone in the street, briefly catching their scent, and experiencing a well of memories from a former crush; or perhaps noticing a distinct combination of aromatic spices as you enter a particular restaurant and are reminded of your grandmother's cooking from when you were young.

Scents can elicit strong memories of people, times, and places. For Maria Kambourakis, the fragrances of Greece provided the inspiration for a range of scented candles launched in September under the label Anouk Gania.

Although born in Australia, Kambourakis designed each candle to provide a redolent olfactory experience that would not only reflect her memories of Greece and her personal connection to various places, but perhaps also evoke similar feelings of nostalgia amongst others.

There are four candles in the Anouk Gania range - Winter, Villa, The Island, and The Church. Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Kambourakis explained the origins of each one. "Winter is inspired by my mother's village in Northern Greece, Sana, and the way it smells during that season. The Island is inspired by my dad's island, Crete.

"The Villa is a little romantic, inspired by a dream of ours (my husband and I) to one day own a little rustic villa in Greece somewhere and plant a beautiful and edible garden there. Finally, The Church is inspired by the tiny little chapel where my grandfather is buried. They constantly burn incense in there and I remember my grandmother taking me to it and the feeling I had sitting there - total serenity".

I came across Anouk Gania recently thanks to a colleague who happens to be Greek. The scent is unmistakably that of the calm and ritualistic atmosphere of a Greek Orthodox church, with a touch of incense and the warmth of a homemade honey candle.

Or, as another Neos Kosmos writer described, "it smells like a chapel, more so like the ones perched on steep cliffs on the islands or found in villages in the mountains, opened for pilgrimage or left to the care of locals and people passing by".

Kambourakis is able to achieve this authenticity and richness of scent by making absolutely no compromises on the quality of ingredients. Not only are the oils, resins, and extracts sourced from sustainable and ethical businesses (and from Australian suppliers wherever possible) but so too is the packaging. The candle wax is plant-based, and the product is presented in a stunning mouth-blown white glass vessel.

This attention to detail is hardly surprising given her previous work in the design and communication fields, and Kambourakis' approach to sustainable consumerism and social awareness is further highlighted by her support of community causes. "A portion of all our sales is donated to The Big Issue in order to help support homeless and disadvantaged people in finding meaningful employment", she says.

Visitors to the Anouk Gania website will also notice that it isn't merely an online store for candles. By featuring a journal and photographic collections about what inspires her (also note that Greek photographer Vaggelis Xafinis captured many of the images that feature in the packaging), the website is also a representation of Kambourakis' sense of aesthetics and beliefs.

"It's important to me that my brand is more than just a collection of candles," she explains. "I want it to stand for something – art, passion, female empowerment. I want it to emanate the values that are important to me, because after all, a brand is nothing if it isn't personal".

Looking to the future, Kambourakis shares with Neos Kosmos that she is planning to release a new fragrance next year "based on Greek mythology, containing oud and other magical and delicious raw ingredients", and likely has a few other surprises up her sleeve.

In the meantime, an Anouk Gania candle or two is an eco-friendly and socially conscious way to bring a beautifully breezy and luminescent touch of Greece into a living space.

Visit the Anouk Gania website at www.anoukgania.com

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