Brave New World // COVERSTORY

Photos: Mathilde Karrer

Brave New World, Text: Nina Prehofer

The world is gradually starting to pick up pace again. But what has happened to us as people during the supposed downtime? We present four different perspectives.

This article will be accompanied by a series of photos under the heading Chaos, Growth & Light by photographer Mathilde Karrèr.

BEING HUMAN

People. We’ve achieved a lot, shaped the way of the world and are now responsible for destroying it. We are good, we are bad. Most of us are a bit of both. Crises bring out the best and the worst in us – we display sheer devotion to wanting to help one another, but are also willing to denounce others without batting an eye. There are people who pay money to ease the hardship of others, then there are those who buy weapons in order to defend everything they own to the bitter end.

In the Weltspiegel Thema podcast by ARD Audiothek, journalists and correspondents from Spain, the USA and Mexico report on how society has changed during the COVID-19 crisis. Spain is one of the countries that has been worst affected by the virus, and implemented rigorous measures to restrict movement in order to combat the spread. People stood on their balconies every evening and clapped for the doctors and carers in recognition of the fact that they were fighting on the front line.

On the other hand, there were those who hung “hero” notices on the front doors of healthcare workers saying that they would prefer it if they moved out because of the risk they posed to the people they lived with. In the USA, weapons sales have gone through the roof out of fear of civil war-like situations, while shops and businesses have barricaded their premises against the threat of looting. In the meantime, queues at food banks have become longer and longer.

Parfume Geschöpf by Atelier PMP

Geschöpf by Atelier PMP
Perfumers: Mark Buxton und David Chieze

2020

We feel threatened, a feeling that makes some of us come together in solidarity, while in others inspires the need to defend everything they have with all the force and power available to them. What’s happening to us? Environmental psychologist Isabella Uhl-Hädicke, who carries out research on climate change communication at the University of Salzburg and advises NGOs and businesses, says in an interview with ZEIT Wissen magazine that a threat of this kind means a total loss of control. This leads to us trying to control at least our small part of the world, as that gives us a feeling of self-efficacy, even if only to a small degree. In the face of the threat, we also focus more strongly on our societal norms and our own circle.

This helps us to deal with anxiety even though it doesn’t change anything about the actual problem.

So how can you change basic attitudes and encourage people to adopt positive behaviours? Uhl-Hädicke replies that, unfortunately, it is actually quite difficult to change people’s ideals, especially when one of our greatest influences is the example set by others. When social norms change because of the behaviour of an increasing number of people, when a new majority emerges, others are often simply carried along with the flow.

In this way, the more people act in solidarity, do good deeds and tell others about it, the more others will be convinced to act in the same way.

That’s just how we are.

LOST TIME

We’ve become accustomed to living under constant time pressure. A lot of us have, anyway. We do as many things as possible at the same time and try to fill our days with more than is good for us. But at the end of the year, we can’t be sure what we’ve actually spent our time doing. We’re frustrated because we haven’t achieved what we had set out to do professionally, nor have we achieved our personal goals, such as going to the theatre more often or travelling a bit more.

So over these last few months, have we gained or still lost time?

Parfume Le Temps Perdu by Salle Privée

Le Temps Perdu by Salle Privée
Perfumer: Tanja Deurloo
2017

Despite many initiatives online, it seems that for the cultural sector it has been a period of lost time. Artists and creatives have been cut off in their work or simply repressed, as this lack of freedom has for them resulted in a feeling of helplessness. Is this because we were condemned to having to wait? Because we didn’t know when and how our old normality would be reinstated? Because we didn’t know where to even start with this downtime? Do we therefore experience it as lost time because we can’t disengage from our restlessness?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s paradox reads:

Wasting time means gaining time.

We should consider this more often, especially when we get swept away by the pace of the world once again.

NEW TRADITION

London. In spirit at least, as right now we’re not able to meet face to face with Brendan Murdock, founder of anatomē, a brand for high-quality vitamins, supplements and therapeutic oils. We wanted to know how someone whose business helps people maintain a healthy body and mind in “normal” times is coping and remaining optimistic in these somewhat different times.

I’m lucky enough to have a garden so tending to that has been hugely beneficial during these times. I’ve watched the transition from Winter to Spring during the pandemic so I am more alert than normal about spring arriving, new growth, bird life and so on, so it has been a nourishing time surprisingly. Gardening is a great emotional tonic.

Long walks with his dog in the countryside where he lives have also become part of his daily routine, and investment in home fitness equipment means he can stay fit and healthy. There has also been more time to think about food and nutrition, whereas during a normal working day in London, Murdock would rarely have any spare time available for such thoughts. Like many other people, he’s discovered baking and has found the slow-down process useful in many regards.

Parfume New Tradition by ETRO

New Tradition by ETRO
Perfumer: Jacques Flori
2002

New opportunities have also opened up for his business anatomē.

This time has allowed us to build a clearer strategy for digital, and thankfully our online sale have been ticking over.

The new platform launches in August. Interaction with the community has also intensified, and initiatives for those who work in the hospitals near the London shop have been set up.

This period has of course also seen the creation of new products, including a botanical hand sanitiser that blends essential oils and deeply nourishes the hands despite the high alcohol content. In addition, there is a new supplement to boost the immune system.

Being at home I’ve had more time to think about products to support our personal spaces, so now I have a really lovely collection of ceramic electric diffusers launching and a new room spray to build out our Support + Protection collection.

NEW PARADISE

While for some people the time in lockdown has led to more of a block on their creative brain, others have been able to put the time to good use. Interior designer and artist Felix Muhrhofer (see interview >>) has even roused enthusiasm for his workshop in his children.

There’s an incredible amount to discover in a workshop like mine. It’s fascinating and exciting. It’s great when kids latch on to the idea that you really can build anything if you just get on and consider something,

he explains.

That’s how numerous ideas came about for things they wanted to make themselves, and one or two pieces have already come to life. Muhrhofer believes that the most important thing he can teach his children is the joy of doing, “of making things with your hands and taking joy in it”. But it’s fair to say his children have always been connected to his work. The pieces he makes using terrazzo require a lot of stones, and they have been collected together during many a family holiday.

They’ve now experienced the entire process once and understand my work much better. I think it’s really important that my children know what I do all day.

Muhrhofer’s eldest daughter has already displayed an appreciation of what her father is teaching her, having decided to become a goldsmith.

Parfume: The New Paradise by Ramón Monegal

The New Paradise by Ramón Monegal
Perfumer: Ramón Monegal
2019

And how did he find summoning up his creativity when it seemed like the world had come to a standstill?

I’ve enjoyed the time enormously. It was as though every day were a Sunday – I like working on Sundays because the phone doesn’t ring and I can really focus my attention on something. You only have to be at home for meal times.

So for Muhrhofer, the time was a win, managing to complete many things that were important to him on a personal level. We’ll probably see a Quarantine Collection from him very soon, as renowned interior designer Kelly Wearstler wants to display his work at her gallery in LA. Endless Sundays, a new paradise – that’s how it was for Felix Muhrhofer.

Maybe we should make sure that the many positive moments from the last few months are carried over into the future to create a new sense of freedom in life, as the title of this article suggests – in a literal or a dystopian sense, as in the novel of the same name by Aldous Huxley.

Ultimately, it all comes down to us human beings.


Photos: Mathilde Karrer

Mathilde Karrèr on Chaos, Growth & Light

Our series was much more innocent when we started: a new beginning, a new home – a playful, carefree series referring to a spring tale of new beginnings. Because of the circumstances we took a moment to consider everything and go a bit deeper.

Growth out of chaos, searching for a guiding light, reorientation and the knowledge that this is only a very tiny part of the bigger picture were some of the thoughts that shaped the series.

If you live in Berlin like I do, it’s quite obvious that you’re part of a place that in many ways quite literally evokes memories of the past, of chaos and of growth.

To create this series of photographs, I had a look around and gathered together pieces of the city in the form of randomly discarded materials and weeds growing out of the pavement.

The photo series Chaos, Growth & Light is the result of collaboration between photographer Mathilde Karrèr and publicist Helder Suffenplan. Her work appears in both THE Stylemate and on SCENTURY.com, the first online magazine for perfume storytelling. Helder Suffenplan is also a columnist for THE Stylemate, and you can find his articles here >>.

About Mathilde Karrèr and her work

Photography and stage design are two fields that Mathilde Karrèr applies to create lavish yet subtle compositions with a captivating narrative.

Half way between paintings and movie stills, her photographs are elaborate, visually rich micro worlds with knowlingly details.

Photo by Marick Baars

mathildekarrer.com