From decomposition to allegory

How does one experience the reality?

Through time and space, through senses, we understand where we are, what do we feel.

In collaboration with two artists, I pursued the goal of researching whether an atmosphere (place, space, landscape) created by combining different sense stimuli can be communicated to a viewer. In our investigation we combined media such as music (piano compositions), installations and scented emulsions.


The starting point of the creative process of each artist was the concept of elements present in nature. Some elements like fire, air, water, have a concrete character; some of them like aether are more abstract, as we don’t consciously perceive them in daily life. The idea was to create allegory of each element using different media: piano sounds, installation and emulsions. The hypothesis that we posed was, that all the media united in one moment would activate different senses of the viewer creating a holistic experience of the element.


Composition of an emulsion

As same as a piano peace is composed of several chords, so is an emulsion, that consists of different elements.

From the chemical point of view emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids in which one is present as droplets, of microscopic size, distributed throughout the other. Here Oil is distributed through the Water. Differently to a pure olfactive work as a media that activates olfactory sense, emulsion brings in one more dimension of experience, namely the touch (tactile perception). The haptics of the emulsion can activate different associations – light, transparent, watery, translucid and therefore can generate certain emotions and images. Thus haptic perception was the second criteria that impacted formulation. Spreading abilities and viscosity of the emulsion also contribute to the haptic criterion.



Subject/particular scents



late summer

early autumn


rotten leaves









Emulsifier choice has the major influence on the result of the emulsion, on how it is absorbed, which haptics does it have (fluid or rich), on for how long the water is being stored, how well the elements penetrate the stratum. In order to generate a rich and heavy texture I decided to use a natural Ecocert approved emulsifier MontanovTM 68 (INCI: Cetearyl Alcohol and Cetearyl Glucoside). It is a non-ionic, liquid crystal emulsifier derived from coconut oil. Liquid crystal emulsifiers create a lamellar or bilayered structure that mimics the lipid bilayers in our stratum corneum, which may help actives or lipids from the emulsion penetrate our skin easier. As Co-Emulsifier I used hydrogenated lecithin, which is composed to 80 % of phospholipids that are powerful molecular structures that also enhance skin penetration.

Choice of the lipids plays also an important role for the texture of the emulsion. Fatty acids that are essential for creating a stable formulation are oleic, palmitic and linoleic acid. These could be enhanced by a little amount of unsaturated fatty acids to treat specific problems or to bring specific purpose to the emulsion. I decided to use Baobab Oil that has a balanced fatty acid spectrum (Oleic- 30-40%, Palmitic- 18-30%, Linoleic- 24-34%); Marula Oil, very stable oil high in Oleic Acid (75%), Wheat Germ Oil (high in Linoleic Acid, 53%). Butters add even more texture and richness to the emulsion. In this context I used shea butter. Oils and butters high in oleic acid would bring occlusiveness to the formulation; therefore it will feel heavier and oilier on the skin. I also added rosehip oil which is high in unsaturated alpha-linolenic acid and has extraordinary cell regenerating capabilities. Gelling agent Xanthan Gum brings extra stability to the formulation.

Another part of this formula was moisturizing agents, like glycerin and urea. These have almost no influence on the haptics.






PETITGRAIN | fresh, light, bitter, soft, lightly rosy-woody green floral note.


GALBANUM | powerful, green, woody-resinous odor, reminiscent of sliced green peppers and hyacinth leaves.


VETIVER | Smell of dump soil, fresh but with vegetation and fungal nuance; rich, dump, musty.

Inner Images

An odor has no personal significance until it becomes connected to something that has meaning.

dark blue/green
late summer in an abandoned town
roots, grass wall
summer night after a festival
dense forest
overgrown garden



Future exploration fields

Scent on the merge with psychology:

– Scent and Memory, Scent and role of the collective unconscious.


Language of Scent:

– Limits of comunication through the media of scent.
– How clearly can we communicate the same reality through stimulation of the olfactive sense?