“To smell something implies to be present in that moment, to breathe in, to take in everything that those passing seconds have to offer. For it is fleeting and the moment exactly as it was cannot be repeated.
Meditation and the art of grounding or centering oneself focuses on the breath. Such a powerful human faculty which we are all born with it yet so few of us exercise to its full potential.”
Some 20 years ago when I happened into the fragrance industry I was taken back by the chemistry and creativity behind it, but even more so by how personal and emotional the act of smelling was.
Through the past two decades I have consulted with multinational brands on designing or enhancing their sensory experience, to be more emotional and to be more memorable.
Through the years I was struck by how powerful a sense of smell is to each and everyone of us, how it can spark individual and collective mood and memory, but indeed also how it can fulfil important personal needs such as self-expression, developing sense of self as well as sense of place and finally and perhaps most importantly a sense of well-being.
And diving deeper, cultivating our sense of smell has historically been considered dangerous, even animal-like, something emotional and difficult to control. Indeed it is human nature to fear what we do not know and a sense of smell is the most mysterious of all of our senses.
Even recent research astounds with more questions on how the nose, a wondrous human tool can work the way it works. Are we smelling by interpreting shapes, or is it vibrations, or perhaps it’s a combination?
The purpose of this article is not to dissect the research literature but rather to awaken ourselves to this powerful tool that we all possess.
However unfortunately it is a blunt and underused faculty that our modern civilisation needs less than that belonging to our primitive ancestors who literally and physically had to rely on their keen sense of smell for survival.
For the most part we just don’t get taught how to train our human ability to smell. It’s processed on the right side of our brain that non-verbal, emotional and highly intuitive side of our brain, so is it any wonder we struggle to rationalise or quantify the power of this sense?
Through the period and process of the last 5 years, myself together with our team in Singapore, have incubated 3 in-house platforms each of which offer educational workshops or entertainment experiences focused on personal & group development through an active sense of smell.
Perfumery is a powerful tool to unlock creativity and build team cohesiveness through goal-oriented projects. Because the act of smelling is so unstructured, it allows for deep sharing and inclusive thinking.
Through natural and botanical workshops, we re-teach people how to breathe and to develop their own ritual-based fragrance as a trigger for positive mood states.
Throughout the pandemic these experiences thrived, albeit in much smaller more intimate groups than what we have been used to in the past.
We even developed a physical-digital (‘phygital‘) workshop experience where we hosted hundreds of people simultaneously, all of us connecting remotely via our collective sense of smell and memory.
Who would’ve thought that what we were building was actually a series of wellness programmes, products and experiences that have become a delight, a source of education, entertainment as well as catalyst for growth of oneself and as part of the greater group or team.
I am proud to say that what started off as something belonging inside the realm of brand futurism is now squarely applicable to our own wellness as individuals and as a race of human beings still learning how to be human!
We currently collaborate with companies both large and small, customising their wellness and rewards programs around our mix of products and experiences that can be delivered both in person and online.
As we awaken to a new world and a new set of priorities let’s dive deep into our own sense of smell as a powerful tool for wellbeing and for centering ourselves in an increasingly complex and confusing world.
If you are interested in implementing a truly rewarding wellness programme for your team, please contact us today!