Material Monday Excite on Scent in Products: Scent Palette

Material Monday Excite on Scent in Products: Scent Palette

Posted Last Wednesday by Katie Kubrak

Colour and scent are two elements that have had a long-standing relationship when it comes to scented products. In this week’s  “Material Monday: Series 2” Seetal Solanki of Ma-tt-er discusses scent related products that are designed through colour and form.

A study by PLOS One published in 2014 investigates the associations between colour and scent. The report goes on to say: “Colors and odors are associated; for instance, people typically match the smell of strawberries to the color pink or red.”

In 2015, while at Royal College of Arts, Kyugum Hwang, currently a senior product designer at L’Oreal, created a Scent Palette. It is a wheel, which connects to the emotions through colour and form by using intuitive visual cues. As a result of interacting with this product, an end user can mix a personalised scent.

Hwang told Dezeen that “after smelling a lot of fragrances at once, it is hard to pinpoint and differentiate the smells and recall favourites given the fact that fragrances are invisible and the smells have slight similarities, variations and differences, which combined is quite confusing.”

Subsequently, her project strips down the process of purchasing a perfumed product to the basic ingredients. Doing this she is empowering each individual to create their own custom aroma and be differentiated from the crowd. At the same time, by tapping into human emotions and making a scent selection more intuitive, she challenges a conventional in-store olfactory experience.

The Scent Palette works with the premise of the fragrance wheel – a classification chart first developed in 1983. To be more specific, it is a way of mapping fragrance families in a neat diagram, divided into floral, oriental, woody and fresh categories.

Hwang expanded this system with the addition of colour and designed shapes, with each of the elements purposefully relating to the top, heart and base notes. This can be best exemplified on the following scenario depicted in the movie below:

  • If the top note is orange it will therefore be conveyed through the shape of the ‘bottle cap’, an orange colour and placed in the ‘fresh’ section of the wheel
  • If the heart note is pink myrtle this will further be represented in the shape of the bottle, pink colour and placed within the ‘floral’ section of the wheel
  • If the base note is sandalwood it will be portrayed through the use of ‘base’ shape, blue colour and is subsequently placed in the ‘woody’ section on the wheel.

In conclusion, this project successfully illustrates how the use of scent, colour and shape in product design can have more of a connection to what the internal ingredients are made of. This approach can further allow the customer to understand what they are purchasing in a more transparent and meaningful manner.

If this is getting you excited about using scent in your product experience, or you would simply like to visit our exhibition launched during London Design Festival 17 titled “London in Seven Scents”, which was released to coincide with “Perfume” exhibition at Somerset House and “Material Monday: Series 2”, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would love to meet you and talk scent!