INCREDIBLE SCULPTURES DESCRIBING SCENTS:
Curiosity has always been the principal driver behind Laboratory Perfumes and their quest for new and exceptional scents – mainly a curiosity over what would happen if they combine one note with another, and how they can transform it further by adding a third or a fourth in the mix.
And we’ve repeatedly found ourselves fascinated by the different reactions of people to a particular aroma. Everyone’s response to scent is different, shaped by a lifetime of memories and unconscious associations.
In clinical cases of amnesia, the sense of smell is the one most relied-upon by scientists and therapists when attempting to retrieve lost memories. In the very basic case of human biology, the sense of smell has helped secure our survival as well – warning us if something we were about to eat was off and potentially harming or deadly, for example. The chemistry behind the sense of smell is a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ all by itself.
This time around, however, with the arrival of ATLAS, Laboratory Perfumes have taken their own curiosity to a whole new level, in an attempt to explore how – or whether – something as intangible as fragrance can be translated into sensory forms. According to them, ATLAS is a scent that they struggle to describe with words.
This particular struggle ultimately led to a breath-taking collaboration with artist Zuza Mengham, in an attempt to find another way to communicate the composition of a fragrance, unrestricted by the limits of language, and that can be both personally expressed and universally understood.
In basic terms, ATLAS is different from anything else that came out of Laboratory Perfumes before, inspired by Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and laced with the spiced vanilla sweetness of pipe tobacco, and even shisha smoke. And yet, Zuza Mengham’s resin sculptures manage to describe ATLAS in a different fashion – their complexity, the interplay of colour and shape within each piece remind us of the way in which a perfume ultimately unfolds itself upon smelling it. Olfactory notes come and go and then resurface as they are experienced through each whiff.
The challenge set by Laboratory Perfumes for Zuza Mengham was a big one: she was to take all five fragrances of the British lab (AMBER, GORSE, SAMPHIRE, TONKA and ATLAS) and translate them into shapes, colours and textures. The sculptures were exhibited as ‘Sculpting Scent’ at the Conran Shop in Marylebone for the London Design Festival, to mark the official launch of ATLAS.
Read more about this fascinating collaboration and Zuza Mengham’s approach to such an ambitious project on the Laboratory Perfumes website. The sculptures have also been featured in a splendid photography project by Ilka+Franz for Zetteler, the PR agency behind Laboratory Perfumes.