Scent Design Activity At Interaction '11

17 Oct 2010 - 11:32pm
1315 reads
Angel Anderson

Eight lucky people attending Interaction ’11 will get to visit a perfumery here in Boulder called the Essence Studio as part of the Interaction ’11 Friday afternoon conference activities. Laurie Lamar has done a great job of selecting a wide array of cool design-related activities to choose from. Since many of you are still deciding which activity to sign up for, I figured I’d explore this particular activity and share my experience. Photos are shared here:

The studio is cozy space filled with perfume, art, and jewelry created by world-renowned Perfume Designer /Aromatherapist, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and her staff. Tiny vials line the walls surrounding a scent cocktail lounge where Dawn combines essential oils and other natural extracts to design one-of-a-kind scents. On Laurie’s recommendation, I opted for the studio’s “Smell & Tell” package. It’s a personal analysis of your skin’s natural scent to determine which fragrances are most compatible with your body chemistry and personal taste.

The process begins with formula X, Dawn’s specially crafted body amplifier. One drop on the skin brings out a person’s natural base scent; woody, sweet, green, spicy, floral, citrus, etc. It turns out that my skin is sweet. Formula X instantly took on the sweet aroma of gardenias. Now I know why floral perfumes I’ve purchased in the past end up unused; floral fragrances smell cloying when they hit my already sweet skin. Instead I smell best in green, fresh smells.

Once Dawn identifies a person’s base scent; she selects compatible fragrances. Then she has you smell each one on a piece of paper to determine which ones you like. This is as much an exploration of your preferences as it is an education in fragrance design principles. Each scent is designed and created in the studio by Dawn herself so as you smell each one, she explains its’ origin, and the layers of fragrance notes. Her taxonomy for grouping perfume families and her layered architecture of fragrance reveals her kinship with interaction designers. She creates layers of sent for our bodies and noses to interact with, but the experience of wearing a particular fragrance is uniquely personal.

There were about 6 fragrances that I really loved so she had me try on each one and used her expert olfactory senses to smell the sample spots in the studio. Then, she took me outside to test them again. Like us, she says it’s important to check out your design in different environments. For this reason, I got to take home samples of the four we agreed worked best on my skin. The idea is that the best way to make the final selection is to test them in your real daily life.

Now All I need is 3rd party perspective.

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