smells unseen


Photo courtesy of

The small town of Herford, located between Hanover and Dusselforf, is home to Frank Gehry-designed Marta Herford museum. From June 8 – June 15, 2014 you can test and train your sense of smell. Belgian artist Peter De Cupere uses scratch and sniff technology in his invisible (SCENT) paintings of olfactory art, which is part of an interactive sculpture and architecture show.

JUNE 8 – 15
Marta Herford
Goebenstraße 4–10, 32052 Herford
Fon +49.5221.994430-0
How to get to Marta Herford with Google Maps


scent tourism


Photo courtesy of Steve Hill Photography

Environmental olfactory advocate, Victoria Henshaw, is on a mission to elevate the odors of various cities and landscapes to a new level of cultural import. She has authored a book on the subject, Urban Smellscapes, and offers guided olfactory tours in her native England. Her website contains tips for smell-walking along with an exciting catalog of the smell walks, some including DIY smell tours, with a handful of tours outside the UK. These delightful forays into the olfactory experience of a geographical location are perfectly in sync with graphic designer Kate McLean‘s wonderful sensory maps of primarily European cities including isolated sensory taste, smell, and tactile maps. We hope to experience some of these smellscape guides this side of the pond one day soon.

scent shopping in the digital age


Though it’s impossible to replace the real live experience of sniffing out scents in a boutique, digital tools can make that process more fun, and perhaps even more efficient. There have been so many new developments in olfactive e-commerce, most obviously, robust sampling programs offered by individual brands or fragrance boutiques. Check out an old list of some brand-specific sampling programs. Here ‘s a breakdown of what we’ve seen so far.

Most Promising

Nose – boutique and website based in Paris
Monday – Saturday: 10:30AM to 7:30PM
20 rue Bachaumont, 75002
M° Sentier or Etienne Marcel

Nose stands out because of their wide range of niche fragrance brands and discovery tool. The site and shop use a diagnostic that analyzes fragrances you already wear to identify your favorite scent families and suggest similar scents. Unfortunately, at the moment, the tool only allows for up to 5 scents to analyze. For someone with a larger scent library, it’s not as helpful as it could be.

Luckyscent – scent bar and online boutique
7405 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90036
Monday-Saturday 11-7
Sunday 12-5

Luckyscent has by far the widest range of niche fragrance brands and are constantly introducing new products. Their scent descriptions are thorough and they have lots of reviews, although, over the years, I’ve noticed many of them disappearing. Perhaps this is part of shifting stock. That’s one trouble here. Luck Scent has great stock, but you can’t smell everything in store with the limited space in their tiny boutique. They send great email updates and have a fun sampling program. For $3-5 per scent, you can select and buy samples to be shipped to you. At Scent Bar, you can peruse solo, with friends, or get expert help from the staff.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges

Part of Selfridges’ Beauty Project, until June 27, 2014, the lab offers a unique ipad diagnostic and exploration experience that includes a bottle of perfume for £65. Selfridges perfume collection is focused more on commercial than niche fragrances. When you buy a ticket, you are fitted with the perfect original scent for you. For the fun of conversing with lab coats in a fog-filled room, until and 50ml bottle of a signature smell, it seems worth it. Buy a ticket here

Jury’s Still Out

Over the past few years, other notable boutiques have joined the perfume party, such as Bergamot, Pinrose, and Scentsa. Several apps have also appeared but need considerable more development to be truly user-friendly.

Iperfumer is an app that simply does not work. What’s more, their perfume database is predictably limited to the fragrances they create.

Perfumance looks really good right off the bat, but they have a strange database of a couple of scents per brand. For example, Frédéric Malle, Byredo, and Heeley are represented by a few seemingly random scents in the larger collection.

Sephora has an in-store app, Scentsa, but alas, is also focused on commercial fragrance.

Pinrose follows a subscription sales model with their own original collection. The program enables shopper to learn about their own unique fragrances through a synesthetic tool – seeing or tasting smells – to explore the best fragrance for her or her.

Bergamot is another company that follows a subscription model, sending you 3 different scents each month to discover. It’s a great concept, focused on niche fragrances. It’s perfect for those getting into niche fragrance for the first time. More experienced fragrance hunters will likely want to see the collection expand dramatically.

Scentbird takes inspiration from the success of Warby Parker. You get fragrances in the actual bottle, try for a few days, and keep it if you like it, return it if you don’t. Neat concept, and a fun, personality-cased discovery method. At present, the company’s offering is limited to commercial fragrances.

continuing education

ImagePhoto courtesy of Odette Toilette

Noses in the Big Smoke are lucky to have Odette Toilette, the founder of a thriving olfactory event scene in London. Her scratch + sniff nights provide rich olfactive adventure and education.

Californians can take a more institutional yet no less exciting approach to olfactive training at one of perfumer and wine consultant Alexandre Schmitt‘s seminars as he travels wine country across the state.

As the latest smell research shows, participating in scent events like these trains your brain and nose to smell a wider range and greater nuances in smells.

iconic fragrances


If you find yourself in the Los Angeles area, check out the exhibit “Timeless Scents,” curated by Chandler Burr. The exhibit celebrates a range of famous fragrances from the 14th to today. The interactive exhibit aims to engage your senses while taking you deeper into the annals of perfume history through the stories behind the scents.

“Timeless Scents” is free to the public now till December 22nd
Lovelace Studio Theater at The Wallis
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd. (310) 746-4000

12 – 8p Tuesday – Saturday
12 – 7 p Sundays
closed Monday

drunken art

ImageImageBelgian scent artist Peter de Cupere has been busy. His current installations at Middle Gate Geel ’13 “Wine Table” and “Drunken” invites spectators to explore the connections between religion and emotion in outsider art. The smell component is, as one would expect, the smells of the alcohol transposed into the body of the artist.

This image of the stereo sound odor device gives some clues about what Peter might be developing in a future project.

“Drunken” is ongoing until December 22, 2013

Fri, Sat, Sun  10:00 tot 17:00 (Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu closed)

De Halle, Markt 1 – 2440 Geel
Gasthuismuseum, Gasthuismuseum 1 – 2440 Geel
St. Dimpnakerk, Sint Dimpnaplein – 2440 Geel
Kunsthuis Yellow Art, Pas 204 – 2440 Geel

scent comedy

Marcel Duchamp would chuckle at the latest hijinks of Dutch art duo Lernert and Sander. Their perfume “Everything” is a stylized slop bucket of samples of each and every fragrance released in 2012. It’s available for sniffing at Colette in Paris but we wish it were being showcased at the BHV.Image

NYC fragrance dinner

Sniffapalooza and Methods & Madness

Fragrance Dinner with Atelier Cologne
Sunday,  2/17 in NYC!
Sunday February 17, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST
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264 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012
Driving Directions

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I can’t make it
Jo's Private Dining Room

In Sniffapalooza’s never-ending quest to bring you the most fantastic sensory experiences, we’ve been dreaming of an event that combines extraordinary aromas, tastes, textures, creativity, insight and stimulating conversation joined together in perfect harmony. And now we’ve collaborated with incredible partners to bring our fantasy to reality!
It is with extreme pleasure that we invite you to Sniffapaloozaand Methods & Madness’ Multi-Sensory Fragrance Dinner celebrating Atelier Cologne on Sunday, 2/17 at 6pm at Jo’s Restaurant in Nolita in New York City! We will be joined by special guests – perfumer Ralf Schwieger and Methods & Madness founder, Chef Tessa Liebman.
We all know Atelier Cologne as a stellar artisanal fragrance brand and purveyor of amazing scented products for body, bath and lifestyle. Atelier Cologne is the first perfume house dedicated entirely to the traditional Eau de Cologne form of fragrance, expanding on the characteristic freshness with new innovations and unusual combinations of ingredients, and giving birth to a new classification of fragrance, the Cologne Absolue. And, over the duration of our six-course dinner, we will step inside their fragrant world for a comprehensive look at the brand concept and creative vision of this beloved cult-favorite!
Methods & Madness is an intimate dinner series where Chef Tessa Liebman focuses on the work of an artist/perfumer/maker and creates a menu influenced by their body of work. Chef Tessa has spoken extensively with perfumer Ralf Schwieger about his process (the “methods”) and the inspiration (the “madness”) behind the fragrances he has created for Atelier Cologne: Orange Sanguine, Vanille Insensee, Ambre Nue, and there will be a special feature of the newest jewel in Atelier Cologne’s crown, Sous le Toit de Paris, which is currently in premiere launch.
Our journey begins with a glass of sparkling Prosecco as we gather together in the warm embrace of Jo’s private back dining room. As we dine, each course will explore a different Atelier Cologne scent.  Ralf Schwieger will offer insight into his inspiration of creation, and Chef Tessa will speak about preparing the menu to reflect Ralf’s work. Barista Ezra Baker will provide olfactory and palate cleansers in the form of specialty coffee cuppings throughout the meal. Guests may bring their own bottles of wine, if they desire.
After the meal and the presentations, the party moves across the street to the Atelier Cologne boutique for bespoke cocktails created especially for this evening! There will be ample time to sniff and sample all the Atelier Cologne fragrances, and to chat with Ralf and Chef Tessa.
As a special token of appreciation, each guest will receivedeluxe samples of all the fragrances explored at the dinner, and a personalized leather bracelet stamped with their name in silver. A special GWP is a 30ml fragrance of choice with the purchase of a 200ml fragrance. Complimentary monogramming is available to customize your bottles, and samples of any of the Atelier Cologne range are yours for the asking!
Due to the private and interactive nature of this incredible event,spaces are extremely limited. The registration fee forSniffapalooza and Methods & Madness’ Fragrance Dinner with Atelier Cologne is $130, and includes six curated courses, coffee cupping palate cleansers, presentations with Ralf Schwieger and Chef Tessa Liebman, glass of Prosecco, bespoke cocktails, tax and gratuity, and gifts.
If you would like to share in this unique exploratory sensory experience, just click REGISTER NOW to sign up via PayPal or credit card. Reservations will be taken on a first-come basis, and this event will sell out very quickly, so please respond as soon as possible. You know how we hate for you to be disappointed!
Looking forward to sharing an indulgent Sunday evening with you, Methods & Madness, and Atelier Cologne at Jo’s Restaurant  on 2/17…
Viva La Sniffa, Baby!Team Karen
Karen Dubin, Founder & Director
Karen Adams, Operations Manager

Register Now!
I can’t make it

deconstructing perfume


The Art of Scent exhibit at New York’s Museum of Art and Design is a foray into how perfumes are born. It is a minimalist yet visually striking exhibit that surveys a brief history of Western perfumery through key fragrances. The twelve fragrances showcased are all scents that were available on the market at some point. Beginning with Guerlain’s Jicky (1889) and ending with Margiela’s Untitled (2010)ach scent represents a particular trend in fragrance.

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The first room is an open airy space with twelve yonic wells installed in the wall that emit a motion-sensitive gust of perfumed air. It is a surprisingly gentle way to experience each scent. There are timed privalite displays in the place of plaques to explain the historical significance and composition of each fragrance.


The second room is even more hands on with a long glass table and chairs where visitors can sit and experience a more potent version of the twelve fragrances by dipping scent strips into small vials of the actual perfume in liquid form. At opposite ends of the table there are two options for contributing feedback on the exhibit that is projected in a real-time word cloud on a wall. One is an ipad that captures word associations for each individual experience of the fragrances. The other is a white notebook in which guests may record their personal associations with scent. The wall installation takes visitors through the process of building a fragrance through different modifications. The walls deliver a card for each of the five “mods” of Lancome’s popular fragrance Trésor (1990).

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The Art of Scent evokes the wonderfully subjective and ephemeral nature of fragrance in an immersive experience that speaks to all of the five senses. If only there was more of an aural component other than video recordings of interviews. Nonetheless, the exhibit promises an exciting future for multisensorial art made possible by cutting-edge technology.


The Art of Scent is at the Museum of Art and Design, 11, Columbus Circle, NY, NY 10019 until February 24, 2013