Inventing a new way to package scents
My aim was to create three scents of Earth to bring to a zero-gravity environment to explore the emotional impact of space travel. I knew from the beginning that I wanted the smells to range from universal to personal. Some of the scent options included: the ocean, forest, dirt, a leather armchair, a freshly baked cookie, my childhood home, and the smell of a loved one.
After a few conversations with Anahita, in order to limit the ingredients within the toxicity parameter we quickly decided the best way to proceed was to select a set of IFF’s single-molecule creations.These captive molecules are created by IFF research directors and chemists to bring new possibilities to the perfumer’s palette of ingredients in order to shape new experiences and widen the realm of olfactory sensations. IFF’s R&D team scours the olfactive molecule landscape, applying new developments in chemistry to imagine and develop molecules never smelled before.
I had the pleasure of visiting a room with an interactive timeline featuring a curated selection of IFF’s scent molecules. These were sampled in small bottles and arranged chronologically, some of them going as far back as the 1940s! As I smelled each one to learn which memory and emotional associations were triggered, Anahita took notes. We did several rounds of smelling until we narrowed it down to a selection of about nine. Anahita consulted with the R&D experts to check on their possible range of delivery mechanisms, lifespan, stability, flammability, and optimal dosage for regulatory requirements.
We next further narrowed the selection down to six, and placed them in a special patented container that would only release one puff of smell at a time. All six were sent to my studio, where I documented them and sent them to the ZeroG corporation. This delivery method was rejected, because of concerns due to pressurization. So we invented a second method of delivery, narrowing the choices down to four. This second method involved coating the olfactory molecules on special polymer beads, which would release the scents in small amounts over a long period of time. I designed a three-chamber, double-contained wearable capsule for the polymer beads, and the project was finally approved for flight.