Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Joya Studio produces handmade fragrances and objects that honor creativity in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. Its atelier—an airy, 19th-century garage turned work studio—hosts an array of creative practices, from research and development to building small-batch scents, candle waxes, and even ceramic vessels from scratch. At the company’s helm is Frederick Bouchardy, who began the company as a second job and aside project in 2016.
In the seven years since then, Bouchardy has brought Joya Studio to the luxury lifestyle stage through an array of collaborations. Fragrances, candles, and even accessories like matches and car fresheners have been collaboratively designed with names like Thomas Keller, The Grateful Dead, Daniel Arsham, and Tom Fruin. Most recently, it tapped Shantell Martin to design a selection of vessels based on her signature one-line drawings.
Whitewall spoke with Bouchardy and Martin to hear how this latest collaboration for Joya Studio honors creativity, innovation, and novelty.
WHITEWALL: How has Joya's evolution taken shape since its start in 2016?
FREDERICK BOUCHARDY: Since then, I’ve developed and built other projects, businesses, a family—all in parallel—and have always been called back to this company and brand, to continue to nurture and expand our skills, superpowers, story, offerings, and influence.
The white space was evident: Very few brands in the scent world (skin, home, etc.) were merging natural, local raw materials with design effectively. It was one or the other. At the same time, consumers were showing a strong interest in two essential elements that persist today: sustainability and personalization. I wanted the same and embraced the challenge, while also pursuing collaborations with artists and experts from “other” media (fine, industrial, ceramics, fashion), especially avant-garde designers because I was attracted to this relentless pursuit to express a signature style, to quiet noise in order to convey a specific vision. We became quite good at this—speaking other languages, interpreting signs, diagnosing, and decoding how we could express our partners’ voices via materials that were not in their typical wheelhouse.
Communication has also changed entirely. We can now speak directly to our customers and community, though I feel that has also kind of come full circle: Everyone is a brand. Everyone is their own QVC. Is this authentic now?
My mom introduced me to my first client and first perfumer, but I didn’t know a lot of about this industry or hardly anyone. The giant tradeshows were eye-opening but not how I wanted to spend my time. I founded a better one with two excellent partners and brought it around the world and licensed that five years later. Then, back to giving Joya and my new life full focus. And then we raised the bar in the quality of our work and output and enhanced the operational infrastructure to scale our unique capabilities and then Covid—which is when I became entirely obsessed with and passionate about our mission and about scent, the science of smell and what we’d do next. It took a long time to understand my own path!
WW: Tell us a bit about your NY studio—a 19th-century Brooklyn rigging garage turned ceramic studio. What's the space like?
FB: In the past, it was a rigging truck garage—meaning a garage for trucks that carry trucks. When I first visited, there were machinists welding art and panic rooms. We do it all here, from ideation and inception to execution of the finished product, all scented. Formulation, R&D, and industrial design are all vertical, as it is porcelain slip-casting. We pour a lot of candles, produce cast wax sculptures and soaps, other home fragrance items, and small-batch perfumes. Finally, a storefront showcases the work and hosts activations to launch the work. We worked with Taylor & Miller on the space and a compelling design that shows the various sides of us and addresses the obvious question—where does manufacturing end and consumption begin? As our expertise is our superpower and we are “turn-key,” the answer is it doesn’t. It’s like breathing and the air in your lungs, mouth… When is that part of you and when does it become part of the environment, outside? They’re the same.
Alex and Jeff’s buildout is beautiful, functional, and clever. Our space ended up being a Prix Versailles Special Prize for an Interior North America winner, a Building Brooklyn Award winner, an honoree in the Interior Design Best of the Year and NYCxDesign Awards, and received an honorable mention from the American Architecture Prize. We are at capacity now, though, and planning to move, ready for a new adventure.
WW: Joya goes beyond candle making, by providing a design object as a vessel. How are the products made in full?
FB: We go even beyond that by designing the fragrance and the object from scratch—whether that’s a perfume, a personal care object, an art piece, décor, or a candle. In our "Signature" collection, the perfumes and candles are housed in porcelain (which is not porous and, therefore, an excellent “vessel” for our work) that we cast downstairs, even mixing our own stained slip. This part of our operation is niche. We package and distribute from the same location, so it is genuinely “in full” right here.
WW: Tell us about this new limited-edition partnership with Shantell Martin. What about her work attracted you to her for a partnership?
FB: I’m drawn to recognizable, signature styles, and artists that are loyal and faithful to their visions, while their interests and styles may change. The links and ties that bind are still there. When we are designing fragrances, it’s an invisible art form, so I think this is natural, it makes sense. Shantell has that. She is also an explorer and searcher, dedicated to her path. I felt an immediate kinship there, though we express this passion differently on the surface. Her work draws you in. You are kind of following the line, getting introduced to new characters and chapters. It can be arresting. Plus, she is just cool and kind.
WW: In the collection are two scents, meant to interact with one another. How so?
FB: It’s really one fragrance experienced at different times in different ways. There will be moments when the scents literally interface and are fused together and doing something chemically that’s weird and unorthodox but pretty and new.
WW: Can you elaborate on how the candle is made with a special pouring and layering wax process, which allows for two different scents to be smelled when burned?
FB: It’s pretty simple—more novel than an innovation—but many things are too tricky right now, and, in my experience, scents want to hold on to certain foundational, classic elements and structures and then divert in subtler experimental ways. A remix. We don’t want chaos, but we need to move forward.
We pour 1 layer and let it cure and pour the next. I am over-simplifying: R&D and production have developed a technique for preparing the containers so the visual effect is more ombre than colorblock—and so that the scents are seamless and the product performs.
WW: Joya also makes fragrances. What is your "Signature" collection of scents like?
FB: Our "Signature" collection—Composition No 1, Composition No 6, Foxglove, Noelle and Ames Soeurs—literally distills plant and flower essences and figuratively distills the momentum and emotion of our home in NYC. No 1 and 6 are different takes on the concept of “clean.” Foxglove is precise yet wild (like New York’s manmade parks), a restrained floral explosion. Ames Soeurs is smoky orange plant, and Noelle is our cult hit—an “anti-perfume” that’s a sheer amber-vetiver that to some is deeply not-pronounced. We’ve always explored the idea of the pendulum and contrast—and not assigned gender to our fragrances. We will have more perfumes soon.
WW: Joya's previous partnerships have involved several other artists, like Tom Fruin, and you mentioned that these collaborations bring a different perspective. What is your personal relationship like with art? Does that change how you approach what you do at Joya Studio?
FB: It’s maybe trite, but I can’t live without the visual arts, music, flavor and, especially, literature and poetry. I need to research, create, experiment, tinker and learn, and pull most of my inspiration from artists who have distilled their own work to its essential core. The Rodin Museum in Paris may be my favorite place on earth (top 3). I just moved to a new home and haven’t put up artwork yet. It’s all a big stack right now that looks quite cool. Traditionally, I will fixate on one piece of art for a long while (like the Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink), until it haunts me and reveals or points me in some necessary direction.
WW: Shantell, you’ve collaborated with countless brands in the past. What was it that impressed you about Joya Studio that made you want to partner?
SHANTELL MARTIN: Joya's attention to detail, their ability to work at such a high standard, and the way they are able to tell a narrative through this medium of candle making.
WW: How do you feel your art translates into the fragrance world?
SM: I tend not to put my work in different boxes; I feel like my art is in the world and can translate into any industry and medium. That's the joy and fun of it. Candles seemed like a natural extension of the work I'm already doing.
WW: What was your starting point for the collaboration?
SM: Initially, it was coming up with the concept. I really wanted to create the gift of focus, something you could use yourself or share with others. My idea was to make almost a playlist of sorts, but in scent form—something that could play (burn) in the background as you let your stream of consciousness flow and take over. The next step there was choosing scents based on verbal descriptors before moving into the physical scents and samples, and then eventually leading to the design.
WW: The design features motifs found in nature, including the sky and florals, mountains, and birds. How did your relationship with nature impact your approach?
SM: I'm a city kid at heart. I don't have a tremendous amount of experience being out in nature, but I do know that whenever I am, I do have a sense of focus, and I feel more relaxed, energized, and inspired. These are the elements that I wanted to bring into this project.
WW: What are you working on for the rest of 2023?
SM: More live performances! I've been challenging myself to do more "present word" shows with my keyboard, and sometimes friends will join me. I also just launched my font, Shantell Sans. Other than that I'm working on doing nothing, and being happy and healthy.