Olaf Hajek Takes Commercial Work Personally
Olaf Hajek is a painter by trade. He creates work and exhibits his fine art, as well as working on commercial campaigns with a more marketable angle. But for Olaf, there isn’t much distinction. He sees all his work as one body, with no lines drawn between the different spheres. “I don’t make any distinction anymore between personal art and commercial work. I can define them a little bit, but the consequence has to be that this is my style and there are varieties of everything possible,” he explains. “I really do love both worlds. I think both of them influence each other.”
For his latest project with J F Schwarzlose, the German perfumery, he approached it as he would any piece of personal work, with the added benefit of having a brief. The perfumes themselves are old scents from a defunct German company that was creating their mixes for Berliners in the 1920s. The company found the old recipes and mixed them back together for this special edition release. They grabbed Olaf to create special art boxes for the packaging, all inspired by the scents’ original provenance. When lined up, the boxes create one image, something that Olaf and J F Schwarzlose were acutely aware of and used to their advantage. “We had the idea to create a little storyline so if you put all these fragrances together you have one image, which somehow leads you through the day,” says Olaf. “And each perfume has the name, which is the inspiration starting point.” The day that Olaf and J F Schwarzlose constructed is as wild as the scents they present.
The story starts with a man on the first moves of the day, the scent named “1A33,” off the old license plate code for Berlin. This man meets an ethereal woman at the Brandenburg Gate, before immersing themselves in the experience of hypnosis, a huge fad in Berlin during the 20s. They disappear into the night, intoxicated and in ecstasy, experiencing the evening through the surreal. The man finally emerges from the intense experience like a fresh breath, almost as if he were waking up from a beautiful dream.
For J F Schwarzlose, the inspiration was inherent in the project, but for his own work he looks elsewhere. “I love folk art, I love the simplicity,” Olaf explains. “I create a lot of art which has something to do with African themes, so I’m always inspired by the exotic themes of the world, which are put together into my own style. I collage the idea of the world to my own creations.” His work becomes a veritable safari of influence, walking the line between historical styles and dreamlike images, always coming back to the handmade product of his work.