Rook scents are all about creating a moment. About evoking an emotion, and transporting you to a time or place. “I’ve always been obsessed with scent. Scent moves me emotionally more than any other sense,” said Nadeem Crowe, perfumer for Rook Perfumes. “People go on holiday and fall in love with a place, they buy a fridge magnet to remember the trip. I buy a fragrance.”
Born in Jordan and raised in both Lincolnshire and London, Nadeem studied medicine at University College London (UCL). During his medical training he applied to the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and trained there as an actor before returning to UCL to complete his medical degree in 2010. When eventually signing to theatrical agents, Global Artists, his agent asked him where he saw himself in 10 years. “A practising doctor with a few West End credits under my belt,” Nadeem replied. Almost 10 years later, Nadeem has pursued those two loves, with a career in acute and emergency medicine as well as performances alongside Glenn Close in “Sunset Boulevard” and most recently, “School of Rock” in the West End. “When I say I’m in a musical but I also practise as a doctor, people tend to reply ‘Those two careers are so different!’ But I consider both worlds to overlap more than you would first think. Both require huge amounts of dedication. Oh, and an element of performance. When people learn I also create my own scents, they automatically assume that that world is also detached from the other two. For me perfume sits comfortably in the middle. I spent years studying science and feel totally comfortable with pipettes, beakers and weighing scales. The outcome, though, is a piece of art. Scent is very theatrical.”
Rook Perfumes had a very modest start. Each scent was made in the carcass of an old Ikea wardrobe fashioned into a home laboratory, while the Rook journey itself originally began with heartbreak. A failed pursuit of holiday romance in Lausanne, Switzerland lead to a lonely and rainy walk around the city. Nadeem found himself in Philippe K., a perfumery making home fragrance and candles with the finest Somalian incense. Having spent several hours sipping coffee and sniffing raw ingredients, the inspiration to create his own scents was born. On his return to England, Nadeem started to explore the incredible palette of essential oils and aroma chemicals. His creations eventually started to attract the attention of friends, family and strangers alike, which lead to the initial launch of Rook Perfumes in early 2018.
At the heart of the brand is The Rook triangle. At its most basic level it represents the top, middle and base notes which make up a scent. “The unity of notes in a scent is very fragile and changing one element can tip the balance,” says Nadeem. The Rook triangle logo, designed by Warren Beeby, represents unity and balance in all aspects of life. For Nadeem it is the triad of performing, perfumery and medicine which brings a sense of equilibrium. Remove one, and all balance is lost.
Nadeem is currently working on the frontline as an NHS emergency doctor fighting the battle against COVID-19.