Project: Sescent - The Future of Fragrance
Creative Fields: Illustration, Graphic Design, Print Design
Sescent is a research-based project, evolved from the investigation into bacteria and smell. The infographics reveal interesting scientific facts about smell, but also bring out my speculations and inquiries about the role that scents may play in the future. In the beginning, I was intrigued by the science of fragrances. I’d like to use aesthetic visuals to uncover the unglamorous scientific facts behind the scenes of perfume industry, but also tell the stories by conceptualizing and illustrating radical fragrances. With my unique interpretations, I imagined a world where olfaction becomes a dominant sense of human, and investigated how the citizens would utilize the features of smell, including strengthening memories, triggering emotions, and affecting behavior.
“Rather than rely on plant-derived products, biotech companies are engineering bacteria and yeast to produce ingredients for fragrances.” - Chemical & Engineering News, 2012
“Compared to producing scents by chemical synthesis, microbial manufacture could be more eco-friendly, and still be labelled natural. And your nose will never know the difference.” - Wired Science, 2012
Gut microbes that might influence the mood - The New York Times
Human doesn't have the sensibility of olfaction of Asian Elephants. However, what if people could use the smell (of bacteria) to communicate in the future? Will technology allow human to analyze the molecules from the scents we smell from each other?
Possibilities of olfactory communication
Chemical signalling and animal behaviour - "Smelly microbes help hyenas to communicate - the structure of the bacterial communities varied depending on the scent profiles of the sour, musky-smelling 'pastes' that the animals left on grass stalks to communicate with members of their clan. Perhaps microbiota can reveal other information about their hosts, such as health, diet, stress status and social-association patterns.” - Nature News & Comment
What if human is able to encode certain messages in the form of scents, which can trigger certain behavior, could it possibly evolve into another types of biochemical weapons?
The secret story behind the scenes
Ambergris is a waxlike-substance that originates as a secretuib in the intestines of the sperm whale, formerly highly valued by perfumers as a fixative, sllowing the scent to last much longer.
Disclosure of Perfume Manufacturing Process
Cold extraction - Distillation - Maceration - Enfleurage
The illustrations of the chemistry lab equipments were inspired by Imaginary Architectures by El Ultimo Grito.
What if we could extract scents of life? How will we want to use them? Save the odors as diaries, or wear them to remind ourselves of certain memories?
Scents of life
The science of stank - "Body odor is a combination of sweat and bacteria. Sweat is innately odorless; it’s the bacteria that live on skin that create the putrid scent.” - Malaysian Journal of Forensic Sciences
Memories and emotions triggered by Smell - "Maria Larsson, an associate professor of psychology at Stockholm University, described the power of smell to serve as an almost magical time machine, with potential for treating dementia, depression, the grim fog of age." - The New York Times
The purposes of wearing perfume include indicating statement (cleanliness, social status, personality), enhancing sexual attractiveness, and attributing confidence. However, what if people wear fragrances for other purposes? What if a person wear the perfume made from other’s unique body odor, will it cause confusion of personal identities? What if smell become the most sensitive sense for human beings?