From something used in religious ceremonies and solemn occasions, Incense has had a renaissance in recent years shedding its old worldliness to be embraced by a wider aspirational modern audience who love the heady luxury fragrance and the atmosphere it imbues. Incense burners have taken on increasingly modern and unusual designs from new takes on old censers to playful approaches with new materials while incense sticks have gone upmarket and exotic in their choice of scents. Luxury fashion houses have expanded their home fragrance ranges to include incense sticks alongside luxury candles and room sprays.
Incense sticks are traditionally made using natural materials such as bamboo with the upper section of the stick covered with sawdust paste to absorb the fragrance and burn slower. Some of the best incense is made by Cinnamon Projects, a New York based creative agency in the japanese style. Their incense sticks scents range from the 7 AM: Black Tea - Clay - Driftwood - Marigold to 4PM, Iris - Juniper, Mandarin and Patchouli. The most popular product is the Series 01 Incense Discovery Set, a collection of the best incense scents from Cinnamon Projects and a perfect way to find which is your favourite incense scent.
Japanese Incense has a long tradition of incense burning and is closely tied to the introduction of Buddhism in the 7th century. 70% of all of Japan's incense is manufactured on a small island south of Osaka called Awaji Island. Some incense producers in Japan have been manufacturing incense for hundreds of years including Baieidō founded in 1657 and Nippon Kodo
There are three main types of incense:
The fragrant wood incense: One popular form of wood burning incense is paolo santo or Spanish for holy wood which is fragrant in its natural form and has end notes of citrus, pine, and mint.
Incense Cones: Incense cones emit a somewhat different smell than the stick variety because there is no stick burning alongside the actual raw ingredients and burn quickly.
Incense Sticks: The long thin sticks made of bamboo or sandalwood are usually the most popular type.
Types of Incense Burners
Due to the popularity of incense, new designs of incense burners have been developed from plays on traditional incense holders to completely new modern incense burners.
Censers: A take on the more traditional censers used for religious ceremonies or in the arab world known as Mabkhara, these are often larger objects able to sit on their own as art d’objet on a coffee table or mantle piece. The Apparatus Censer is one of the best modern censer’s on the market. Finished in aged brass or blackened brass, this is a multi functional object. As an incense burner, smoke emerges from the hand cast porcelain dome and as candle holder the censer becomes a brass torch which emits a soft warm glow. The Neighbourhood Booze.N.E.R.D/ CE- Incense Chamber White is another example of a incense chamber completely re-thought in design and function.
Modern Incense Burners: Using a variety of materials such as brass, copper, wood and ceramics, these incense burners are simpler than the censers and bring new designs to the art of incense burning. The Cinnamon Projects Circa Brass Incense burner is a perfect example of a beautiful modern incense burner. Made from a single piece of brass or copper, the burning and the ash fall on the same piece. The Monocle Incense Burner made of polished brass and natural oak and with incense sticks from Shoyeido in Japan one of the oldest traditional Japanese incense companies, is another example of a modern incense holder which also contains a holder to store your incense sticks for easy access.
Incense Stick Holders: These are minimal functional incense holders normally with a holder for a single incense stick and sometimes a saucer to collect the ashes. An example is the ceramic incense stick holder from Hasami from a collaboration with Nippon Kodo or the Cinnamon Projects Linea, a single line of solid brass. The Haeckels Copper Dish Incense Burner Is another minimal incense holder which can be used for both incense sticks and cones.