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February 5–June 5, 2022

“All my genius is in my nostrils” (Frederic Nietzsche)

Fragrance and scent are interconnected to the most ancestral part of our brain. Scent influences our social behavior, our emotions, our eating habits, and help us learn about the world around us. Therefore, our sense of smell is the most physical and powerful sense among all the five senses. Scent can reawaken memories, sensations, and emotions that we think are lost forever and can ultimately influence our unconscious behavior.

Our Egyptian, Greek, and Roman ancestors were expert users of aromas, conditioners, and essential oils. In 700 BCE, the sense of smell was key in the wellbeing of people and served as the basis of a vast “chapter” in perfumery. Taking advantage of the sense of smell can ascribe meaning and emotional value in a way that is otherwise difficult to achieve.

Contemporarily, the purpose of olfactory design is to promote the idea that scent can become an additional, essential drive in the hands of designers, to use our senses to observe objects from a different point of view. Scent becomes an element that is highly correlated with colors, shapes, and materials.

Scents and Fragrances focuses on how the sense of smell can be used as an instrument of design in relation to its historical, social, functional, aesthetic, and emotional character. The result is a collection of unprecedented olfactory objects to be discovered.

Guest Curator: Elisabetta Pisu


The exhibition is an IMF Foundation production in collaboration with the EP Studio.


Above Image: Atelier Kaja Dahl, Tapputi and the Sea – Handmade perfume for Design Indaba, 2017, mouthblown glass, natural and colored seasponge, wax and natural perfume oils, Photo courtesy of Frances Marai.


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