Exploring scent as
a creative way of life

When Fragrances Tell: Olfactory Storytelling

What does a scent mean? When stripped of its branding does it have the capacity to tell a story? Do humans even perceive smell in narrative terms? There is no doubt that these questions call for an exploratory and interdisciplinary approach. In order to test these propositions, a group of researchers & cultural producers designed an experimental event that paired scent with creative writing.

The Solothurner Literaturtage 2019, Switzerland's foremost literature festival, provided the context for workshops, readings, discussions, and writing sessions with people from all walks of life. “When Fragrances Tell: Olfactory Storytelling” encouraged unconventional forms of meaning making by fusing creative writing with critical smelling. We used more than 20 different perfumes created by Brian Goeltzenleuchter, Christophe Laudamiel, Sean Raspet and Andreas Wilhelm, as well as prior modifications and raw materials to transform a traditional bar into a temporary scent bar. This pop-up exhibition served as the homebase for individual and collective explorations into olfactory worlds. Overseeing the events, the novelist Tim Krohn wrote ingenious stories inspired by the scents. 

HEADWIND brings a breath of fresh air into the world of work...

This reviving room fragrance was developed at the Bern University of Applied Sciences Business School in the summer of 2019. The sense of smell has become a topic of great interest to management and companies over the past few years and the Swiss National Science Foundation has been funding research in this area. The BFH Business School’s involvement in this research has allowed us to develop innovative services and further education courses. HEADWIND connects all this and is so much more than just a scent. The fragrance exclusively developed by Zurich perfumer Andreas Wilhelm complies with all guidelines for cosmetics that come into direct contact with the skin. A few sprays around the room are sufficient for the desired accent: a burst of energy before a meeting, a moment of breathing deeply after lunch at work ...


The development process involved students, alumni, professors and staff at various stages of the process (e.g. concept, evaluation, launch). For the school as an organization this experimental use of scent catalyzed the ongoing organizational change process. The scent was launched under the name Headwind as an ambient scent for new worlds of work: Today Headwind is not only used as a giveaway for corporate and non-profit partners of the school. It is also available in meeting rooms and lecture halls. Its presence in the school’s culture tells how the experiment worked out.