Space of the Week: Making Scents of Things

It might not look like much at first glance, but this 300-square-foot room in a Gowanus warehouse is the headquarters of a flourishing handcrafted perfume and cologne business called D.S. & Durga (, helmed by entrepreneurs David Seth Moltz and his wife, Kavi (who’s nicknamed Durga). Kavi, an architect by training, has turned her design sensibilities to the packaging and branding of their line, while David is the nose, concocting scents from myriad vials stored within the tiny space. The wood worktable was a rescue from the street by David. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The walls of the studio are covered in inspiration such as a portrait of Proust (on the upper left) and Sarah Bernhardt (down on the lower right). The space has the feeling of a place where Friar Laurence might have conceived the potion for Juliet. Photo: Wendy Goodman

David, who was nominated for a prestigious FiFi fragrance award and won an FGI award for entrepreneurship in 2012, found the medical chart in an antique shop in Rappahannock County, Virginia, where he and Kavi like to go for a weekend every spring. They have an extensive collection of vinyl records in the studio. David displays the cover of whatever he is currently listening to on the wall. Leonard Bernstein was playing during my visit. Photo: Wendy Goodman

This is the area where the dozen-plus scents”with names like Poppy Rouge, Burning Barbershop, Mississippi Medicine, and Cowboy Grass are tested. A portrait of Bach from David’s parents’ attic presides over the ceremonies. David keeps the glass distiller he used in the beginning. “When we started, we wanted to know everything about perfumery and became involved in each step. So we started with the basic raw materials,” he explains. “But distilling oils is an art of and in itself. To make all our own oils would be comparable to a guitar player chopping down a tree to make a guitar, so we decided to leave that part to the masters of the art.” Photo: Wendy Goodman

“The glass tanks with spigots are for infusing vodka, supposedly, but they are great for all my test batches,” David says. Photo: Wendy Goodman

There are collections of quirky objects all over the studio. This tablescape, for example, is composed of scallop shells from Swampscott, Massachusetts, a prized piece of amber with a mosquito in it from David’s uncle, Ganesh statues, and voicebox of a duckbill platypus. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Space of the Week: Making Scents of Things