We appreciate the time notable founders David & Kavi Moltz took in answering our burning questions about their projects and stellar brand, DS & Durga.
Q. We know that you’re the Co-founders of D.S. & Durga, with David as the Perfumer and Kavi the CEO and head of visual design. Did you start out with a clear vision for each of your roles or did this evolve over time?
A. It’s been the same since day one, but our roles have really evolved as we’ve grown. The bigger we get, the more we are able to focus on just being creative.
Q. We’d love to learn more about your concept of perfume as “armchair travel”…
A. Perfume has a wonderful ability to take the sniffer into realms - real or imaginary. You can create this world around you, carry it on your skin, and interact with it throughout the day.
Q. What’s your process in terms of creating a new fragrance, and do you start with an idea or is it the ingredients that drive the concepts?
A. I [David] have a running list of names and ideas. Sometimes I start messing around with fragrant materials and link them to ideas, but more often I set out to make one of these ideas come to life in aroma.
Q. At what point does a scent become married to a name, story and visual presentation (your fragrance names are so good!)?
A. The names are the most concise ways to express what is going on in the fragrance. I have always been fascinated with the idea that the small can imply the large.
Q. David, what and who are your top creative inspirations and what drives you to make perfume?
A. I’m driven to create always. I suppose it’s my attempt to enter the slipstream of all artists. I’m always writing music, poetry, and making fumes. My influences are vast, but perhaps some that reoccur for me are Paramahansa Yogananda, Gustav Mahler, Thomas Mann, Thomas Merton, The Stones, Malevich, Muddy Waters, Mary Oliver, Dylan, Tolkien, HP Lovecraft/Robert E. Howard, The Dutch Masters, Yeats, Chinese poets, I don’t know - too many!
Q. D.S. & Durga has evolved over the years, especially in terms of visual branding — Kavi, can you give us a bit of background about some of the choices you’ve made regarding changes to packaging and presentation?
A. In its form, our package plays with light, shadow, and depth, inspired by years as an architect. I surely was influenced by the language of architecture in creating this little house for perfumes. Visually we have made our bottle and package quite minimal, allowing it to be a backdrop for the stories of the scents. We chose a beautiful matte white paper so we can always use color as an accent. We love using this flexibility for our studio juices, for which we get rather playful and colorful.
Q. Will we be seeing further sustainability-driven updates, in the vein of your recyclable box?
A. Our package is 100% paper, engineered to use no foam to hold the glass in place, which is something that was very important to us. Eventually we would love to explore refillable bottles, but it's tricky with perfume as it must be hermetically sealed to stay fresh and safe.
Q. We’ve read that you’re a musician, David, and music is often referenced in your fragrance descriptions. Do you see your perfumery and music as being part of the same aesthetic universe?
A. Yes – the media is different, but I’m interested in exploring the same ideas. Music is more immediate, but it’s harder to hide your identity. Fumes allow you to be a silent party behind the magic.
Here’s my latest musical projects:
RAMBO TAMBO SURF CABAL
Q. Congratulations on opening your first two stores (in Manhattan and Brooklyn), they look stunning! Kavi — with your background in architecture, did you take the lead on the store design, and can you tell us about some of the unique design details?
A. Thank you! Concrete is a material that has always inspired me. There is a monumentalism, a weight that it carries. You can shape it, texture it. I knew it would be a common thread through all stores we will open because of how it can adapt and the many ways it can be treated. It also has a grittiness that speaks of the world of DSD so well.
Q. Have you had to significantly adjust the way you work as the brand and company have grown, and how has that been impacted by the pandemic?
A. Yes, we’ve focused more on home/hand/body. I work in the office, and so does the shipping team, but no one else. We’re zoomin’ like everybody else.
Q. What do love most about what you do? Any dislikes?
A. I love to make worlds come to life. I love organizing my ideas and checking them off the master list. Not much to complain about. There’s a fair amount of business drudgery that you’d expect, but I’m forever thankful to get to do this.
Q. What fragrances do you wear, from your collection or others?
A. I wear stuff all the time that I’m working on. I love to wear ouds, or patchouli with I DON’T KNOW WHAT. I love Amber Teutonic, D.S., ROSE ATLANTIC, WHITE PEACOCK LILY.
Q. As a husband-and-wife team with kids and a significantly growing business – do you manage to leave work in the studio, or does it follow you home?
A. There’s no real life-work separation anymore. But stressing about that is much worse than accepting it.
Q. What was the inspiration behind your lovely new perfume, Jazmín Yucatan?
A. We went to the Yucatan on a family trip and went into the dense interior. The drive was so beautiful and specific – rolling jungle like a wet forest. Cool cenotes, crocodiles, copal burning and massive ancient temples.
Q. We love that you’ve broadened the line over the years, with the fragrance enhancer I Don’t Know What, really excellent candles, hand soap and other product types. Anything coming soon that you’d like to tell us about?
A. We’re working on a bunch of stuff. We’re about to partner with a major airline, fun holiday items, and I have 4 scents that are done and are not like anything in our current line which I’m stoked for.