Synaesthesia Scents

type - trends
sector - beauty
Olfactory-meets-auditory experiences are providing people with physical and psychological grounding as an antidote to hyper-connectivity

Drivers: what’s happening

Scent is being elevated from an aesthetic pleasure to a multi-dimensional consumer experience. Expanding beyond Digital Fragrances, which translate scent through technological mediums, other sensory elements are being folded into fragrance.

Synaesthesia – defined as experiencing multiple senses simultaneously, such as tasting a colour or hearing a texture – is reported to affect just 2-4% of the population. Yet, sensorial crossovers are providing intriguing category innovation, especially where the marketing or experience surrounding a scent becomes a performance or meditation of sorts – something that could prove particularly interesting in the home fragrance category.

Indeed, scent receptors’ direct connection to the brain’s limbic system, which houses the centres of memory and emotion, means fragrance brands can harness multi-sensory moments for relaxation, wellbeing or to elevate audio experiences. As Olivia Jezler, founder of scent branding company Future of Smell, comments:‘When all elements work together to tell the same story we will evaluate the product as being of better quality and we will be willing to pay a higher price for it.’

Published by:

20 April 2022

Author: Carla Seipp, Kathryn Bishop and Olivia Houghton

Image: Arpa, France. Photography by Julien Thomas


Aesop and Worldwide FM, UK

Case studies: what’s new


The Australian beauty brand’s Othertopias collection of three gender-neutral perfumes are complemented by three 60-minute Radiomatique Mixtapes – weekly podcasts that will be created in collaboration with internet radio service Worldwide FM throughout 2022. With the scents inspired by spaces ‘traversing the physical and metaphysical realms’, the curated shows demonstrate the crossover between notes of the audio and olfactory kind. Presenters include Seoul-based DJ and producer Closet Yi, who will mix spoken word poetry, pop, soul and ambient music to ‘transport wearers to realms both real and imagined [to] evoke a further sensory dimension for listeners’. Aesop describes the project as an invitation to practise conscious and meditative states around aural and auditory cues.

Folie à Plusieurs

In Japan, Koh-do is the practice of ‘listening’ to incense – a custom of appreciating and interpreting scents in total silence. Updating this for music fans, Folie à Plusieurs has created the Co collection of five olfactory experiences. Created by Japan’s oldest incense company Kungyokudo, each pack of incense sticks is sold with a link to download an album to be played while burning the corresponding scent. Among Folie’s five creations are Fernweh, with notes of jasmine, the sandalwood and aquatic-scented Led by a Blue Bird Through a Mountain, and To Your Borders and Back, with notes of cedar and lavender. The musical stylings are equally eclectic, ranging from experimental operatic vocalist Hatis Noit to synth producer Rival Consoles. As founder Kaya Sorhaindo says: ‘Our aim is to elevate the cultural value of fragrance, and to broaden its meaning and relationship to the human experience.’


According to Arpa founder Barnabé Fillion, ‘Everything that I’m doing in perfumery is visual and related to my own synaesthesia, to convey not just a memory but a texture.’ In this vein, the company – aptly named after the arp synthesiser – goes beyond being a fragrance house into far richer territory. It pairs each perfume, packaged in a hand-blown, limited-edition glass bottle, with a unique sonic frequency, sculpture and photograph to convey its sensorial character. Arpa’s first ‘sequence’ is a range of three perfumes that draw reference from the Belgian Blue Forest through to acid bath craters in Ethiopia. Its Arco Spettro scent has notes of opoponax, guaiac wood and vetiver, while Fosforo unites iris, sage and hiba wood. Beyond scent, Arpa also operates as a creative institute that aims to provide ‘an experimental and ritual pathway into synaesthesia, phytohormonal sentience and wider perceptual awareness’.

‘Radiomatique Mixtapes are born from the shared language between the two senses – both can be composed of head, heart and base notes – and forms a place where aroma and audio meet’

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