Scent Survey: Matt Dilling

Matt Dilling has lived a large part of his life beneath the glow of neon lights. He’s founder of Lite Brite Neon, an ecstatic studio of artisans producing neon objects for the international shop fronts of Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney, Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday windows on 5th Avenue and for artists including Bruce Nauman, Keith Sonnier and Glenn Ligon. Matt is an artist himself and a hundred things more: Hudson Valley beekeeper, biodynamic gardener and a tremendous contributor to his twin communities of New York and Woodstock.

What did your childhood smell like?
Ditto paper (that beautiful lavender print), laundry soap, electrical arcs.

What scent has the power to stop you in your tracks and immediately transport you to a memory/moment/feeling?
The electrical arch smell of Lionel electric trains, and the smell of diesel engines.

What does/did your grandmother/mother/father smell like?
Such a cornucopia of smells, I can’t place just one – but alternately chocolate chip cookies, Downy fabric softener, and I distinctly remember the smell of Bondo epoxy (my father would sculpt model mountains out of it for his train board).

What does your kitchen smell like?
More often then not roasting cumin and garlic and coriander seeds – I’m a giant fan of middle eastern spice combinations and this seems to be a base I work often from.

What does happy smell like?
A mixture of white sage, pine, lavender and the ocean. Happy smells like Big Sur.

What does your favourite place in the world smell like?
A mixture of white sage, pine, lavender and the ocean, with the scent of my partner, Erika, mixed into it.

What is your least favourite smell?
The acrid smell of burning plastic and metal – the smell that permeated my home in Brooklyn in the aftermath of 9/11 would sum it up.

What does love smell like?
Cinnamon, clove and cardamom with lavender, rose and vanilla. A hint of sage too.

Lite Brite Neon