Design with Scents 2014
Design with Scents is the world’s only workshop focused on the design of a fragrance for a specific space or environment. The week-long programme includes an in-depth look at how fragrances are designed, including the different scent families and ingredients used in fragrance manufacture. Fifth Sense Founder Duncan Boak studied the course in 2013 ( see the very first post on our blog here), and returned this year as one of the speakers, whilst Fifth Sense’s Smell Training lead member Chrissi Kelly was one of the students, on what was for her a very important olfactory journey. Here’s her report on Design with Scents 2014.
I attended this course at the suggestion of Duncan Boak, founder of Fifth Sense. I became anosmic two years ago and since then have struggled to regain only a tiny amount of my previous ability to smell.
At the recommendation of my ENT, I began smell training last year. The results of this have been of great interest to me, and from the beginning I kept detailed records about my response to it. I am now heading up a program within Fifth Sense on this subject. I have so far used myself as guinea pig, trying all kinds of methods to find the best way to achieve improvement through training. I felt that I might learn some techniques for smell training from the perfume industry. Until now I have been using the basic technique described by German ENT specialist Thomas Hummel (using lemon, eucalyptus, clove and rose). His research study showed that smell training was of benefit to people with anosmia or hyposmia.
My ability to discern and differentiate between odour objects changed dramatically in the week of the workshop. I do know what has happened, only that I after one week I was suddenly aware of all the smells we used in our classroom work. I would describe it like this: whereas before the course I was able to detect the presence of smells, they were very mixed and difficult to pick apart, rather like putting food into a processor and whizzing everything around until it is an unrecognisable paste. Having spent the week smelling, discussing and training, I am able to pick out the individual notes again, as if my olfactory receptors have started doing their specialist jobs (receiving one odour molecule) rather than poorly interpreting the odour objects, and sending a “grey noise” message.
The course also introduced me to the idea of “fragrances” that are not necessarily appealing, but are nonetheless part of the smellscape. These include sulphurous compounds (onions, garlic, the smell of natural gas), chemical smells (such as glue), natural smells from the environment (earth, mould), and animal smells. These smells are just as important to train with as “fragrances”. Consider how important it would be to train with the smell of natural gas, and be able to detect a life-threatening leak. My own experience has shown me that training intensely with certain families of smells, for instance wood essences, sensitised me to the woody fragrances we used in the Design with Scents Workshop. So one of the more useful ideas for going forward that I gained from my week is the idea of training with these non-fragrant smells.
The Design with Scents Workshop has been an important milestone in my smell training. I will continue and hope to tailor what I have learned to make it useful to other FS members. I am extremely grateful to the DwS tutors for their interest in FS and my case, as well as their helpful suggestions.
For more information on Design with Scents visit http://designwithscents.com
For more information on Smell Training, visit https://www.fifthsense.org.uk/smell-training