How scent can link both personal and cultural memory: Firmenich x Central Saint Martins reimagine the future of fine fragrance


Scent Fountain, one of the concepts created for the 14th edition of Firmenich’s Olfactive Design program in collaboration with students at Central Saint Martins. © CSM

As the world changes, from climate issues to political and cultural unrest, so does the perfumery.

How olfactive experiences connect people to better understand each other and their environments. Olfactive Design
encourages us to think about the future of fine fragrance through new uses and application techniques.

Firmenich, the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and taste company, has teamed up in an exclusive
collaboration with world-renowned arts and design college Central Saint Martins in London to reimagine the future of fine fragrance. Twenty-one projects provided a unique, “fragrance forward” vision for game-changing uses of fine
fragrance, from heat relief, water conservation, and community empowerment, to mindful eating and scent travel.

The 14th edition of Firmenich’s Olfactive Design program is an unique collaboration with students in the Master of
Arts of Narrative Environments and of Material Futures at Central Saint Martins. Partnered with Firmenich Fine
Fragrance perfumers, students worked collectively to imagine seven future worlds with both utopian and dystopian
attributes: Hope & Re-Enchantment, Danger/Chaos/Risk, Circularity, Generations & Memory, Hybrid Experiences,
Identity and Pleasure & Wellbeing. Together, teams co-created prototypes, installations and bespoke fragrances
inspired by the students’ work to show how fragrance will impact our world in the years to come.

Access to the projects is now available exclusively on Firmenich’s RE|GENERATION website so that customers and
consumers can view the intricate works via images and video footage of each project.

“This is the first time our students have worked with perfume. With the rise in popularity of immersive experiences and meaningful interactions, students were keen to explore how scent can link both personal and cultural memory, and how olfactive experiences connect people to better understand each other and their environments.” – Bethany Shepherd, Professor of MA Narrative Environments at Central Saint Martins.

  • Global warming has formed urban heat islands in heavily populated areas and cities worldwide, where natural land is replaced with buildings and surfaces that retain heat (such as pavement). Man made heat affects humans in many ways, from creating additional stress to amplifying illnesses. Looking at the theme of Danger/Chaos/Risk, student Lars Dittrich provides a counterbalance to these islands. As a solution, he created a Fragrance Ventilator that captures hot air as it rises, humidifies and cools the air in a tube, and then releases jets of fragrance from vents as cool, scented breeze. Senior Perfumer Dora Baghriche imagined a scent to emphasize a refreshing sensation, with a green accord to emulate the relieving sensation of vegetal freshness and a mineral facet to suggest an implicit petrichor effect of fresh rain. She also added a touch of Freezestorm, a breakthrough technology, delivering a long-lasting cooling sensation that reinforces the hyper-sensoriality of the project.
  • Addressing the theme of Pleasure & Wellbeing, student Alessia Yu created a program to help individuals temper emotional eating habits at a time when eating disorders are on the rise. Her Mindful Dining experience proposes to restore a person’s full awareness of what he or she is tasting, therefore bringing more joy and wellbeing to the individual’s life. Olfaction contributes as much as 80-90% to the taste of one’s food, thus scent is a powerful tool to engage a person’s senses and create a more pleasurable food experience. The dining adventure begins with a customized dessert subscription, delivered with a scent box diffuser and audio-guided meditation. As a person begins the guided, mindful journey, they are introduced to each ingredient and layer of the dessert they’re about to eat via fragrances emitted from the diffuser box as well as imagery on screen. This exercise amplifies smells and textures to better appreciate taste. In this example, Firmenich Perfumer Alexis Grugeon brought the dessert experience to life with an addictive banana bread fragrance. Using Smell The Taste technology transporting the individual to thoughts of home-baked goods, he mixed the rich creaminess of banana with notes of walnut, wrapped in a refined orris trail.
  • With the feeling of Hope & Re-Enchantment as a guide, student Aliza Ruzavina created a communal Scent Fountain to help local communities take ownership of the future of their neighborhoods. The fountain lives at the center of each town, and features opinion polls about community issues, such as new building development, industrial changes, traffic density and natural park spaces. When voting, people smell scented tubes around the fountain containing different fragrances related to different outcomes of the poll. Each scent relates to a unique characteristic of what the community could smell like if a change is made. Once a person has smelled all of the options, they cast their ballot by pushing a button. Principal Perfumer Hamid Merati-Kashani imagined a fragrance that argues in favor of positive and eco-conscious communal behaviors, using notes of pink pepper, an exclusive NaturePrint magnolia scent, and biodegradable and renewable Sorbettolide musk as key ingredients. Each of these elements recall the existence of nature in the midst of a city, helping empower the community and people who live there to make healthy and eco- friendly decisions.

    Olfactive Design and RE|GENERATION by @Firmenich; ;photo