I will always consider visual aesthetics when designing perfume exhibitions for two reasons: Scent only translates into an experience when an audience is present within a space, therefore visual aesthetics become a useful means of describing and promoting my olfactive endeavours when removed from the space itself.
Secondly, visual aesthetics allow perfumery to be placed within different contexts, therefore extending our relationship both with perfumery as a craft and scent as a means of communication.
More recent Perfume as Practice exhibitions have seen me design a convergence between what is seen and what is smelled; using perfume and painting to explore and re-contextualise the effects and possibilities of scent as communication. Given this, it might come as no surprise that the bottle in which the perfume is housed becomes an item of great importance – it is the key apparatus that uses it’s aesthetics to describe the concepts within an exhibition, and is also the gateway to interaction with the scent itself.
I afford a lot of consideration choosing bottles for exhibitions as I want to design a coherent and meaningful experience, therefore everything must be correct. I am aware of how the perception of a fragrance can shift due to the visual information you can receive from the bottle: A perfume in a conventional spritzer possesses an entirely different meaning to the same perfume placed in a medicine bottle, for example. There is an interesting discourse here regarding how our visual relationship with the world informs our olfactive sensibilities – and this is something that can be revealed, subverted and challenged by placing perfumery within a contemporary art platform.
And of course, certain bottles contain a history and a narrative of their own, whether they contain perfume or not. I’ve taken to collecting bottles; nominally as a source of inspiration – a reminder of the possibilities they possess. But also, I just kind of like them!