Smithsonian interviews Celiné Ellena, a third-generation perfumer at esteemed perfume house Charabot in Grasse, France. From the interview:
Did you have formal training?
Today, young perfumers must study chemistry. I've been creating fragrances for about 14 years. I have a diploma in psychology. It's helpful. Fragrances are very sensuous, sensual. When you talk about fragrance, you talk about the intimate. It's very deep, very personal.
What's an average day?
I think of different fragrances for different customers. When I think of a fragrance, it is like an image that I have in my mind. I have the image of the smell of the fragrance. And then writing the formula is like drawing the image. It's like I'm trying to build a puzzle. In the same day, I could imagine a flower fragrance, a woody, masculine fragrance, something very feminine, while also thinking about scents for shampoos and cosmetics.
Some are easy. An apple shower gel: a few drops of apple. Sometimes I have to take my time, close my door and think about it. I write my formula on the computer, and my assistant mixes it for me in the lab. The smell of the lab is too strong for me to work there.
If you're intrigued by the science of perfumery, check out the excellent book The Emperor of Scent. And for a wonderfully creepy novel, read Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.
UPDATE: A slew of BB readers ask that when it comes to scent-related fiction, we not forget Tom Robbins's Jitterbug Perfume.
“I made this huge leather bound “spellbook” with traditional bookbinding techniques,” says Nerdforge7 of NERDFORGE, on IMGUR. What an amazing project.
Years ago, I read a bit of advice in The Whole Earth Catalog, which said a great way to get up to speed on a subject you are interested in is to read a children’s book about it. It’s excellent advice, and I’ve made use of it many times over the years. The best children’s […]
I came across Astonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life when I took my kids to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in 2009 and found it in the gift store. It was written by philosopher Roger-Pol Droit, a researcher at the Centre de Recherche Scientifique and, as the title indicates, […]
For all their amazing growth over the past 25 years, the most impressive thing about the monumental rise of Amazon might be the speed and sophistication of their lightning-fast delivery network. Sometimes it doesn’t even take 24 hours for the idea you ordered to be perched right on your front porch, ready for use. The […]
You could actually watch a Tyrannosaurus Rex walk down your street right now. And no, this isn’t the latest Jurassic Park sequel. Of course, it isn’t real either, just a Google recreation of some pretty realistic looking dinosaurs transplanted right into any environment around you courtesy of augmented reality. Yet it’s just another example of […]
A guy on the Apple discussion forum started a thread titled, “Why do your Charger Cables have the lifespan of a housefly?” That question is probably enough to elicit a whole bunch of head nods from virtually everyone reading this, whether you’re an iPhone user, an Android owner or have virtually any device that needs […]