Exploring scent as
a creative way of life


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Perfumes resemble other cultural products in their short lifespans. The pressure to perform during limited periods of time or according to seasons governs the perfume’s life-period on the shelf, requiring that perfume be constructed as a fast-moving consumer good. This is often missed by consumers because they mainly recognize the most successful perfumes that remain on the shelf.

Bodo Kubartz
Perfume expert
Source ↓

Kubartz, B. (2009). Scent and the City: Perfume, Consumption, and the Urban Economy. Urban Geography, 30(4), 440–459, p. 448.

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One simply cannot turn up one’s nose these days at the role of scent in design.

Ashraf Osman, Claus Noppeney & Nada Endrissat
Source ↓

Osman, A., Noppeney, C., & Endrissat, N. (2017). Culturalizing Scent: Current Steps towards Integrating the Sense of Smell in Art & Design Education. In V. Henshaw, K. McLean, D. Medway, C. Perkins, & G. Warnaby (Eds.), Designing with smell: practices, techniques and challenges (pp. 169–177). New York: Routledge, p. 173.

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Another particularity of the fragrance industry is that there is a reciprocal tolerance for similar competing fragrances on the market. It is often even qualified as an «incestuous industry». Consequently, there is a certain reluctance towards conflict and the legal status of fragrances subscribes more to custom than to law.

Claire Guillemin
specialist in intellectual property right protection
Source ↓

Guillemin, C. (2016). Law & Odeur: Fragrance Protection in the Fields of Perfumery and Cosmetics. Nomos, p. 25.

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Does perfume matter - isn’t it all packaging?

Diane Ackerman
Source ↓

Ackerman, D. (1990). A natural history of the senses. New York: Random House, p. 12.

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And though it is a big business, fragrance is a low tech, frivorous and fickle world.

Luca Turin
biophysicist & writer
Source ↓

Turin, L. (2007). The secret of scent: adventures in perfume and the science of smell. London: Faber and Faber, p. 5f.

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Chanel asked how easy it would be for another perfumer to imitate Nº 5, and Beaux answered that there was no guarantee that someone would not be able to prepare a pale imitation. The idea of this becoming a reality horrified Chanel, and the only solution Beaux could propose was to make the formula too expensive to imitate. «Do it!», said Chanel.

Patricia de Nicolaï
Perfumer & president of the Osmothèque scent archive
Source ↓

de Nicolaï, P. (2008). A smelling trip into the past: The influence of synthetic materials on the history of perfumery. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 5(6), 1137–1146, p. 1144.

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Materiality enables both innovation, providing new opportunities and expression for mavericks and misfits, as well as stability of cultural products that is essential for mainstreams. Mavericks create and attempt to promulgate new cultural products and semiotic codes, which in order to diffuse and be translated, need to be available, visible and durable so they can serve as exemplars that spur innovation from other.

Candace Jones, Silviya Svejenova, Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen, Barbara Townley
organization scholars
Source ↓

Jones, C., Svejenova, S., Pedersen, J. S., & Townley, B. (2016). Misfits, Mavericks and Mainstreams: Drivers of Innovation in the Creative Industries. Organization Studies, 37(6), 751–768, p. 761.

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Here I expect a terrible outcry for betraying the secrets, (that is, often, the frauds,) and thereby the profits, of the trade: but if, by following exactly the advice and receipts here given, it shall appear, by proof beyond contradiction, that all compositions in the way of perfumes may be made at half the present and usual expenses.

Charles Lillie
Source ↓

Lillie, C. (1822). The British perfumer. London, p. xiii.

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