The Art of Perfume

I didn’t make it to Sunderland for If There Ever Was, an exhibition of extinct and impossible smells, for which curator Robert Blackson commissioned 14 strange scents from a team of perfume designers and botanists. Luckily this book released to accompany it brings the smells to me, in the form of paper inserts. The perfumes include a lovely recreated Edwardian scent from the Titanic, a meteorite hitting Peruvian mud, the smell of communism – some kind of institutional soap, I’d guess, with a hint of bleach – and the Mir space station, which it turns out was plagued by “the pungent odour of pickling gym socks”, created by the sweat of vodka-drinking Russian cosmonauts. The rub’n'sniff technology works reasonably well, although one of the smells is so strong it seems to drown out the first few: think it’s the sun’s rays – “hydrogen and helium with a molten cocktail of copper, terbium, strontium, antimony and europium”. Had no idea the sun smelt so terrible.

3 thoughts on “The Art of Perfume

  1. Alyssa schuster

    I am absolutely in love with this blog. Every post catches my eye and interest. Keep up the fantastic work! By the way, this book sounds utterly fascinating; do you think it’s worth purchasing or does the novelty wear fast?

  2. Emma

    To be honest, I can’t imagine it’s something I’ll be taking off the shelf very often – once you’ve smelt one Mir space station, you’ve smelt ‘em all. But it’s very nicely done.

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