Category: Fragrance Design

THE SCIENCE OF SMELL

The Science of Smell

Our sense of smell involves a process of communication between sensory organs, nerves and the brain. The olfactory system is responsible for this process.  

The architecture of the nose is fascinating. When you breathe in through the nostrils, the air travels to the olfactory epithelium (a type of tissue). This area holds many chemical receptors which detect odours. These receptors send messages to the olfactory bulbs. The message is then forwarded to the olfactory cortex of the brain. Once the information has been relayed, the olfactory cortex, which is a component of the limbic system (processing emotions and memory), organises the sensory information.

The system is so beautifully complex that scientists cannot fully grasp the way in which the receptor neurons process and distinguish between trillions of scents.

What we do know, is that the olfactory cortex communicates with other limbic system structures such as the amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala is involved in the formation of emotional responses and memories. The hippocampus helps regulate emotional responses. Therefore, the limbic system directly connects odour to emotion and memory. This is why specific smells can provoke emotions based on the memory they are connected to. Take cinnamon as an example. One person may be reminded of their Nana's warm cinnamon muffins. Another might recoil at the memory of the chai lattes drunk during a stressful period at uni. 

This information is exciting for perfumer designers and perfume wearers as it creates space for playful storytelling. At Perfume Playground we love experimenting with emotion and memory during the scent design process, adding a layer of depth to our fragrance.

Smell is an overlooked element of wellbeing. Scent impacts emotion. Use this knowledge to draw on your essential oil allies whenever you need a mood boost. We recommend lemon for its invigorating properties. Although, it is entirely subjective based on your scent associations!

What smells do you associate with positive memories?

Would you like to incorporate your ‘happy’ smells into a natural fragrance?

Have a go at our upcoming Perfume Playground workshops and feel the difference.

Upcoming Clubs

  • 10 November. Auckland. Auckland Art Gallery. Our seasonal series themed around Spring peppermint. 2.5 hours of sensory exploration with founder Samantha Copland. We cover more technical elements of hero botanicals and scent evolution. 

  • 15 November. Auckland. Studio One, Toi Tu. Classic Club. Fast-paced and playful

  • 22 November. Melbourne. Work Club Global. Classic Club. Fast-paced and playful 

  • 13 December. Auckland. Studio One. Toi Tu. Classic Club. Fast-paced and playful

“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can from a lifetime of conversation” – Plato

At Perfume Playground we believe in the importance of ‘serious play.’ Whilst it may sound contradictory, what if we were to tell you that serious play enhances creativity, innovation and engagement.

Simply put, serious play is play with a purpose.

When was the last time you had a good play?

This means to apply an open minded, non-judgemental mindset whilst engaging in playful activities to complete a task or problem solve.

When Julie enters the Perfume Playground, she reclaims her creative freedom. She is free to roam, smell and take risks. We do not enforce strict guidelines or encourage a serious atmosphere, instead it’s all about providing a safe space for people to develop their own methods. When Julie engages with her intuition and imagination in this way, Julie produces a fragrance which tells a personal story. She explores the role of fragrance designer, without judgement.  

Working a high-profile job has Remi strung out and longing for playful release. She attends the Perfume Playground club to reconnect with joyful creativity. There is no pressure to be ‘perfect’ in this space, only to do what feels right. She realises at the Perfume Playground it’s about enjoying the process as well as the product. The emotional benefits of ‘letting go’ of inhibitions at our club, aids her on her spiritual journey.

Serious play appeals to Alex, due to the way he can translate what he experiences at the Perfume Playground into his innovative business practices. Drawing on the imagination, all senses and getting out of one’s analytical head creates a mental space from which great ideas bloom. Alex fosters his mind-body connection through playful experimentation when designing a natural fragrance. When a serious play approach is applied to his work, through modelling and sensory exploration he has noticed profound shifts in his creativity and the quality of his designs.

The concept has received increasing attention recently, due to its proven benefits in fostering engagement. When engaging in serious play, one is said to lose track of time and self-consciousness which creates a state of flow.

Join our club to incorporate serious play into your life! 

Upcoming Clubs:

  • 11 October. Auckland Our Classic Club, with the only rule being there are no rules.

  • 18 October. Melbourne. Work Club Global. Our Classic Club returns after a year long hiatus.

  • 10 November. Auckland Art Gallery. Our seasonal series themed around Spring and hero botanical Peppermint. 2 hours of sensory exploration with Samantha Copland

  • 22 November. Melbourne. Work Club Global. Our seasonal series, this time our hero botanical Rose is explored

WORLD PERFUMERY CONGRESS

With David Apel, a fragrance hero. Designer of Tom Ford, Black Orchid

In June, I was in Europe to discover the Future of Fragrance at the World Perfumery Congress in Nice, France. Here are 5 things I discovered on my trip to the heart of the industry.

  1. Handcrafted is the new luxury movement - having your own personal scent is a new subtle form of exclusivity.
  2. The new ‘it’ raw fragrance materials are Sustainable, Renewable and Natural ingredients. There’s a number of new beautiful complex materials to discover such as Oakwood, Geranium Bourbon, Lavandin Absolute, Pepper Sichuan Absolute CO2 extract, Four Corners, and Gnidia Flower.
  3. Fragrance & Flavour - Master Perfumer Jean Claude Ellena’s spontaneous conversation about the diversity of peppers with top chef Olivier Roellinger’s led to him to distill Timut Pepper oil. This era of experimentation and collaboration will lead the next generation of designers from flower to fragrance, seed to scent, plant to perfume etc.
  4. The Aura of Aroma - seemingly superstitious during attempts to fight the plague in 1347 it was incredible to learn how how Carlos Benaim (IFF) and others have been applying the work of Dr. Broja Mookerjee, studying the aura of aroma and perfume construction to create fragrance with memorable sillage (a scent trail that lasts and is recognisable). In terms of techniques, advances in the understanding of scent perception as well as the development of non-linear modeling methods (AI), may allow us to better predict fragrance behaviour (impact, diffusion, tenacity, volume). We just hope science doesn't take the mystery away from the alchemy of fragrance design.
  5. Macro-cultural trends influence global olfactory experiences. Interesting shifts, desires and scent remedies that show how scent can play a part in wellbeing and healing the mind-body at a collective level.
Definitive Shift Corresponding Desire Scent Remedy
Terrorist Attacks Comfort and Familiarity Vanilla / Gourmand
Communication proliferation (smart phones) Boundaries and Mindfulness Lavender
Political upsets Reassurance & Authentic sweetness Manuka Honey
Human right victories Individuality and cultural exposure Yuzu, Ginger, Tumeric
Crises and scandals Transparency & Purity White Strawberry
Non Toxicity (J&J Baby powder) Safety & Tried and True Ginger, Lemongrass, Lavender, Rose

The trip convinced me that Australasia has an opportunity to contribute to the world of perfumery. With a growing Asian market, we are perfectly positioned to innovate simply in brand and formulation, in addition to reducing impact on the environment. With our progressive stance to gender equality we can set the tone for empowerment and become leaders in an accelerating premium unisex fragrance market. Finally, we’re young in terms of our cultivation and supply of native botanicals with therapeutic value.

As a New Zealand startup, Perfume Playground is excited to be living the trends talked about on the international stage. Both ethical and empowering, with a focus on Naturals we interpret your brands essence using Scent, Soul and Science into fragrance that invigorates your retail store, home or body with wellbeing. If you’d like to give a gift to yourself or a loved one you can take your opportunity to build a Natural Fragrance yourself at our Sensory Clubs held in Auckland, Wellington, Melbourne and Sydney.