SCENT AS PSYCHIC SPACE
The less functional a product is, the more work symbols have to do to create stories that thrive in the imagination. Fragrance is perhaps the most conceptual of all commercial communications, just as perfume is one of the most highly symbolic of all cultural artefacts.
Scent cuts through to the area in the mind that makes sense of the world without spoken and written language.
The power of scent is in its freedom from language, its suggestiveness and its immateriality. Experiencing a fragrance is about deducing a story from clues and hints of clues. Fragrances go missing. Get lost. Are there. Then aren’t. Yet fragrances are still composed. They have a structure made up of top, heart and base notes counter points and “accords” -harmonies of molecules derived from natural and synthetic sources that work together to create open ended narratives.
Applied semiotics is about developing the pacing and structure of received signals in any form or context. Scent is sculptural. Architectural. Commercial semioticians are composers of space.
GL: Some scents are forgeries or reproductions. Imposters. And yet they are cherished and
publicly lauded, leaving truer smells neglected.In attics, in old tins, in between-spaces.
MSTL: Mr. Green in the Ballroom with a rope
GL: There are few fabled aromas. Siren scents from heroic poetry. Figurative miasmas. There are eight distinct reasons for this (though only six are known).
MSTL: Miss Scarlet in the Library with a candlestick
GL: A fragrance company will bottle You: identify, extract and preserve your distinctive
scent. You never smelt better, More Yourself (the name of next season’s must-have).
MSTL: Mrs. Peacock in the Billiard Room with a revolver
GL: To combat aisle-grazers, a well-known supermarket replaces all its fruit and vegetables with convincing plastic replicas. The replicas smell just like the real thing. Better, in fact – fruitier, more naturalistic.
MSTL: Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with a knife
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