06. Oct 2017

“Scent Constellation” in the Le Grand Musée du Parfum in Paris/FR visualises the process of creating a perfume.

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag
Photos: James Medcraft

Patrick Süskind opened many people’s minds to perfume when he wrote his novel of the same name. “Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will”. He also explains that every perfume contains three chords and are thus harmonies of twelve individual scents, underlining in words the link between sound and smell, which is exactly what the permanent installation in the Le Grand Musée du Parfum in Paris is all about.

“Scent Constellation” is a light art work comprising light and sound. Visitors to the museum can see, hear, and to a certain extent feel and smell its presence – it addresses practically all our senses. The work incorporates a web of sharply defined lines of light and is designed to visualise the process a perfume specialist goes through when creating a new perfume. Five different perfumes are broken down into the “notes” and “chords” they comprise, and presented one after the other.

An array of 135 polished glass prisms give rise to an enchanting atomised haze when the beams of LED light are directed onto the prisms from above in coordinated compositions. The light is refracted to focus on the core of the installation, a frosted glass bottle, marking the spot where all the “notes” and “chords” come together to create the final perfume composition, accompanied by a corresponding soundscape. The prisms are aligned in an organ-like set-up according to five perfume typologies: eau de cologne, oriental, fougère, floral and chypre – with the special fragrance nuances at the top and the base notes at the bottom.

Every high-quality perfume excels through its precisely defined composition; the fragrances only unfold properly when finely atomised. “Scent Constellation” aims to demonstrate the molecular composition of a fragrance in a highly sensitive fashion, just as the perfumer experiences it. Simultaneously, it generates the hazy atmosphere beguiling fragrances are known to generate. The fine network of light, corresponding soundscape and the subdued but delicate overall atmosphere make for the ideal backdrop.

Client: Le Grand Musée du Parfum, Paris

Lighting design: Jason Bruges Studio

Sound design: Daniel Sonabend




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