Meet the Designers - An Interview with I/TEMS

Posted by Diana Felmer on

For our new interview we had the pleasure of talking to the lovely ladies making the most beautiful smelling and at the same time cool looking candles - meet the ladies from I/TEMS

Hi, please introduce yourself to our readers!

Hi, this is Zornitsa, Natalia and Sara, the girls behind I/TEMS.

Natalia, Zornitsa and Sara from I/TEMS
Natalia, Zornitsa & Sara 

How did I/TEMS come to life?

We wanted to change the image of Bulgarian product internationally, especially Bulgarian Rose and Lavender which Bulgaria is famous for and which we pride ourselves with. Initially the idea was that we would make cosmetics, but we didn’t have much knowledge of the industry. We all love fragrances, so somehow, naturally, we leant towards the scented candles. It is no coincidence that the first two candles of I/TEMS are Rose and Lavender.

01/ROSE Scented Candle. Available in our online shop.

What is the creative process behind your products? Where do you get your inspiration from?

For the candles we start with the story of the fragrance, which swirls around an inspirational word, that gives us the feeling of the scent we are searching for.

With the help of a friend, who is also a professional perfumer, a brief is being written, mentioning the notes and the story we have in mind, which is then sent to Grasse, France.

Underwood

Within a month we get the first samples of the fragrance, we choose our favourite, write down comments if we have any, and return it to the perfumers. We also make candle tests to see how the fragrance interacts with the wax and if we have to make any corrections to the formula.

For the rest of the products, such as the wooden accessories and textiles, we brainstorm and exchange ideas, search for fabrics, ribbons, etc.

Generally speaking, it’s a very joyful process.

I/TEMS at work
I/TEMS at work.

What materials do you use for your candles and where do you source them?

The most important thing about a scented candle is of course the fragrance. That is why we turned to the best in the field. The perfume compositions are  crafted especially for I/TEMS in the cradle of perfume - Grasse, France, where one of the oldest family-run perfume houses in the world creates the perfume formulas including natural oils.

Artist Edition Scented Candle - Fig Leaves05/FIG LEAVES. Available in our online shop.

Mr. Gérard Anthony, who is a superstar in the perfume industry as he created some of the best selling fragrances in the world, is the chief perfumer at Jean Niel, where our perfumes are crafted. This is something we are greatly proud of.

As for the wax, we use pure vegetable wax derived from plants.

You collaborated for the scented candles with the Bulgarian illustrator Rozalina Burkova, please tell us about her and your work together?

Rozalina is an amazing person who is truly gifted and hard-working. Sara met her during their university years in Central Saint Martins and we all admired her work. We were just starting with expanding the candle collection and we wanted to tell the story of the new candles differently. Somehow naturally Rozalina’s name came to mind.

Illustration for 06/UNDERWOOD by Rozalina Burkova 06/UNDERWOOD

Illustration for 06/UNDERWOOD by Rozalina Burkova.

After scented candles and beautiful rolling pins, what’s next? What are the next projects you are working on?

The name of the brand I/TEMS is specially chosen because it suggests that we can create various items. Therefore we have the candle collection, but we also have a wooden accessories collection which has great success too. Natalia’s father is the one who makes the wooden ‘loves’ as we call them, and we are planning on expanding that part in the future and add more textiles as well.

New candle edition + Rolling Pins New candle edition and rolling pins. Rolling pins available in our online shop.

How would you describe the design & architecture scene in Bulgaria?

Architecture in Bulgaria is a mix between old and new. We have beautiful old buildings from the Bulgarian Renaissance architecture period, spread across the country.  The houses from that period have beautiful wood carvings, elaborate ornaments and paintings on the walls.

You cannot miss the Communist influence left in both residential and public architecture across Bulgaria. Hated or loved it is a reminiscence of time past, where concrete and metal were the materials preferred. The monument of Buzludzha is definitely the international star among the Bulgarian Communist architecture, which people from around the globe come to visit.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria by Alexandr Bormotin and Christopher Rusev via Unsplash.

Are there any challenges you might encounter as a young designer in Bulgaria? How did you overcome them?

Unfortunately we don’t receive any governmental support as upcoming designers and entrepreneurs. Which is a big bummer for us, as we have to sponsor everything ourselves and face everyday business challenges at the same time.

Any other Bulgarian designers you are particularly fond of and we should definitely check out?

The fashion brand By FAR is a huge success, they make shoes and bags which became A-list darlings around the world and are on our wish-list. Shevitza is a lovely brand, making our folklore motives worldly famous with scarves and fashion accessories. Stinky Socks are pretty cool too, and they have this movie worth checking out, which will show you an interesting sight of Bulgaria. 05. Studio make lingerie and swimwear for the modern girl, and do it quite well.

What are the places we shouldn’t miss going to when in Sofia?

Structura Gallery is a contemporary art space, where you can enjoy modern art and where we hosted the reveal of the collaboration with Rozalina Burkova and I/TEMS.

Structura Gallery - I/TEMS event Structura Gallery - I/TEMS event

Structura Gallery - I/TEMS event.

At the Cosmos restaurant you can taste Bulgarian cuisine with a modern twist. The rooftop bar at Sense hotel has the best view over Alexander Nevski cathedral. We are lucky that in half an hour you can be up in the Vitosha mountain and enjoy pine tree forests, fresh air and breathtaking views over the city.

Something personal about yourself - what is your favorite scent?

Zornitsa: I love 04/SANDALWOOD and 01/ROSE and I am super excited that very soon we will launch a blend of the two fragrances in a new candle.

Natalia: I can’t get enough of 05/FIG LEAVES which reminds me of the summer evenings by the sea, under the fig trees.

Sara: I love unusual scents and 06/UNDERWOOD is such - taking me to a forest after rain.

I/TEMS Candles at Structura Gallery

I/TEMS Candles at Structura Gallery

Thank you for the interview! We are looking forward to see the next creations and fragrances you will come up with! Until then you can follow I/TEMS also on Instagram and Facebook. And in case you missed our other interviews, you can read them on our blog.

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