Product design studio Blond has worked with female-founded start-up Tesoro to create sustainable, refillable aroma candles, designed to feel like “a piece of treasure”.
The candles are Tesoro’s first product range and keep with the company’s goal to become the world’s first carbon negative homeware brand. Tesoro had previously designed a candle range that did not meet its sustainability or marketing vision and so it sought the help of Blond after seeing its work with refillable deodorant brand Fussy.
While some might think that buying recyclable and sustainable products means compromising on aesthetic, Blond founder and creative director James Melia believes that “when something is well-designed and strategically thought out, the sustainable aspect can be the beautiful aesthetic you are looking for”. He adds that considering the manufacturing restrictions that come with certain sustainable materials results in being able to “leverage their unique qualities”, making the final product “different and beautiful”.
The refillable component of the Tesoro candle is made from “infinitely recyclable” #41 ALU, the same material found in soft drink cans, says Melia. The glass vessel is designed to be kept forever as “a treasured home decor object” and Melia says that, in the future, it may be able to house different products.
Blond also designed the packaging solution which is 100% recyclable, meaning that nothing from the product goes to landfill. Melia says that it has become “a prerequisite” at Blond for clients to have a sustainable outlook so that the team can engage in projects that are both sustainable and “disruptive”.
Combining research with strategy was key to this project, as was considering the materials used, recyclability and general sustainability aspects, according to Melia. “So many people are making refillable products which just aren’t purposeful,” he says, adding that the studio’s Tesoro research, revealed that there were “no truly sustainable refillable candles on the market”.
Tesoro’s vision always involved using “refillable architecture” as the brand has “a multitude of fragrances” in its range, says Melia. Adopting a refillable model was the most sustainable way for customers to experience all the scents.
Blond’s research also unearthed that no candle had been designed explicitly for interiors. Melia says that the current market is dominated by glass-contained candles, “often heavily branded, or with some sort of cardboard tube” or traditional “block of wax” candles that are “not particularly safe”, says Melia.
Using the refillable nature of the product to its advantage, Blond sought to design a product that would suit different audiences through creating various types of vessels. Each vessel is meant to make the refill element stand out, “suspending it and making it feel like a piece of treasure”, Melia explains.
The suspended design also makes for a safe burning environment as it prevents the hot candle refill from making contact with furniture. The final step, says Melia, was developing “a simple system with a refill that is always the same”, allowing Tesoro to update the vessels in shape, materials and sizes “to suit a range of domestic environments”.
“This tri-approach – combining the refill system, suitability for domestic environments, and its safety – allowed us to get a really surprising and unique outcome”, he adds.
Melia describes the strategy work as the most difficult aspect of the design process, as Blond had to consider the future of Tesoro and what products might be in the pipeline. “You can often design yourself into a corner if you only focus on something in isolation”, he says.
Blond has plans to collaborate with Tesoro on future products which they have already begun working on. They are being launched and unveiled in Milan during the Fuorisalone 2023. Melia hints that we can expect to see some “electronics-based products, more fragrance products, and in the future, maybe bathroom products”.