In his ongoing search for the herbs and plant material that are the basis of his Intelligent Nutrients products, Horst Rechelbacher travels to corners of the globe rich with ancient temples and architectural relics. Since well before he founded Aveda in 1978, Rechelbacher has been combing India and Asia for cloves and cabinetry, acacia gum and artwork. His collection now includes a Chinese wedding bed, a bronze nude, carved polychrome angels from Austria and Goa, statues of Hindu saints and a Castiglioni lamp, according to the Frick Collection.
Rechelbacher bought his first antique, an aromatic diffuser, during a research trip to India in 1970. “I was looking for medicines and found all kinds of stuff,” he says. He peppered his first Aveda salon in Minneapolis with old Indian light fixtures and other artifacts, and he amassed warehouses full of alcoves and gargoyles, massive stone pillars and stained glass windows. In 1980, he bought a 600-acre farm in Osceola, Wisconsin, just north of Minneapolis, where he integrated much of his collection into his home, retreat center and spa, which is now the Intelligent Nutrients Learning Center. He now lives and works in a 19th-century cabin that was renovated using boards salvaged from Lake Superior.
“I live in a warehouse,” Rechelbacher says. “I have different showcases carrying the library of different items I use as inspiration in the work I do. I use art as inspiration within the now.”
Rechelbacher sold Aveda to Estee Lauder in 1997 and founded Intelligent Nutrients, a personal care line based on organic food-grade ingredients, in 2008. He constantly replenishes his art collection while learning about plant stem cells in Austria and Ayurvedic techniques in India. He only brings home pieces that he loves but insists he’s not attached to any of them. When pieces are no longer inspiring, he lets them go—for a profit. “This month I’m sending more than 50 Orientalism paintings to auction in Paris,” he says. “We’ll make a minimum of 30 percent.”
–Robyn Griggs Lawrence
Horst’s House Rules
Invest in quality antiques. “You will never lose money if you buy antiques.”
Let antiques be. “Oil them and keep them in good shape but never lacquer or modernize them. They will lose their value.”
Don’t buy new. “The minute you buy it, it’s already worth 50 percent.”
Buy only what you love. “The most important thing is, you have to love it. It’s very important that we live in an environment that is loving inspiration.”
Don’t get attached. “Everything is for sale,” Horst insists.
Horst Rechelbacher in his home lab in Deerview, Wisconsin
One of two carved stone guardians with LED solar flower light
Antique scalloped wood shelving with hydrosols distilled from peppermint, oregano, sage, and rose.