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Creativity Science

A visit to NYC’s International Flavors & Fragrances

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of participating in a fragrance tutorial at International Flavors & Fragrances in NYC. One of the most important tips about smelling fragrances is to move the test strip back and forth under your nose. Our teacher taught us that our nostrils alternate between open and closed so the only way to capture the true smell is to waft from both sides. The second lesson in fragrance testing

One of the most important tips about smelling fragrances is to move the test strip back and forth under your nose. Our teacher taught us that our nostrils alternate between open and closed so the only way to capture the true smell is to waft from both sides. The second lesson in fragrance testing is to use our right brain. The right brain is responsible for emotions and gets highly activated when we smell.

Our instructor never told us the ingredients to the fragrances. Instead, we smelled the fragrances with our eyes closed and announced the colors we saw. It’s magical how our brains always associate the unknown with an image. Our brains crave certainty. Sometimes I smelled light green, Vietnam, and saw castles and mountains; other times I smelled black licorice. When one sense promotes another it’s called synesthesia. This is how blind people can paint. Music too conjures up images in our head.

When one sense promotes another it’s called synesthesia. This is how blind people can paint. Music too conjures up images in our head. A fragrance is our dreams, not words. The ingredients, nodes, distort the pure magic of the emotional experience in smelling fragrances. Smell is too easily commoditized. Our teacher passionately vouched for a return to the dreamy quality of fragrance. Colors mean something but words used primarily for marketing purposes distort what fragrance is for in the first place. The essence of a fragrance is in the emotion.

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