Flowing; Breaking Boundaries

By Edena Klimenti

Some of us are used to what we like, and we keep things that way because we don’t like change. This can be related to food, friends, work and even down to the perfume we wear. Then there are the people who like to challenge and explore, break boundaries and try new things. Here we look at the ways in which people have crossed the line and attempted to challenge typical norms, particularly looking at the sensory worlds of perfume and food.


© Kim Keever, Courtesy Waterhouse & Dodd

Somerset House east wing is hosting ‘Perfume: a sensory journey through contemporary scent, possibly  the most unusual perfume exhibition we may have seen or even smelt? A number of different perfumers, some self taught, and some professionally taught, will showcase a number of different perfumes which aim to take over and assault our senses, not necessarily in a obviously pleasant way. Most commonly, popular and commercial scents are those that are heavily floral, or have a sweet and overpowering strong scent. These perfumers are aiming break the mould, changing the way we appreciate scents, moving away from the commercial scents we are all so used to smelling.

When we think of something smelling nice, we almost certainly do not associate this with blood & semen however, these perfumers have tried to change just that. They look to alter our views of aroma and open up the world of perfume, challenging and changing the typical ‘nice’ and ‘safe’ scents we are usually so fond of. Bringing together perfume lovers, the event will attempt to break boundaries and will also contain talks, allowing for people to understand the process of creating perfume, and what it takes to extract these unusual smells. The exhibition will be a journey through each scent, where attendees will be encouraged to document and write down their reactions to perfumes, what they feel as well as what they smell. The exhibition will entail physical and literal representations of the inspirations behind the perfumes featured, allowing attendees to truly experience the ideas and purpose behind the perfumes and what they are bringing to the world of perfume.

Items explored include:-

A sumptuous re-working of traditional iris perfumes

The traditional iris flower is known as one of the most beautiful scents, used in perfumes created for Chanel, Prada, Jo Malone and many more luxury perfume houses. This re-working of traditional iris perfumes will challenge the scent we all know and appreciate, awaking a new and interesting interpretation of the well known flower.

An ultra-modern, ink-inspired fragrance

This scent challenges the notions we have of perfumes; we tend to enjoy smells that are attractive, sexy, floral, sweet and even alluring, but ink inspired? This scent will assault the senses with its unusual approach to perfume, using dark and unpleasant smells as a way of opening up our minds to different and edgy aromas.

An olfactory portrait of French Catholic mass

This scent took the perfume world by storm with its interpretation of French Catholic Mass in the form of burning incense. It was a new and unusual way of capturing events and moments rather than just florals. As scent is most associated with our memory, it was a way of putting a moment in time, into a fragrance.

A fresh, floral fragrance with a twist

Florals are the most popular type of perfume and are known for the sweet and attractive aroma they let off. This perfume includes ingredients that throw off the strong floral scent, and create a depth that makes this an interesting and attractive aroma which challenges typical heavily floral perfumes.

A familiar, yet unexpected, natural fragrance

Charcoal- its in the name, this dark unusual perfume really took the perfume world by storm, introducing the edgy gritty scents that may not have always been so appreciated.

The scent of sexual pleasure

Not a scent we would consider spraying all over ourselves is it? Perfumes we may gravitate to could be sexy and enchanting, but the scent of sexual pleasure itself is what took it a step further and made it shocking and new.


© Givaudan


A sensory exploration of the Texan Desert

Texan desert is not something we would think of as an alluring perfume, but in the name of change and ‘breaking boundaries’ this really fits well.

The skill of science meets the art of perfume

Using science for inspiration, this perfume is the balance between the world of perfume and the world of science as we know it.

A fragrance inspired by the scents of the Saharan Desert

Perhaps an interpretation of the Saharan Desert is one that will challenge the perfume world, with its unusual approach.

A thrilling scent simulation of a water theme-park 

 Light and fresh perfumes are usually inspired by the ocean, sometimes made salty and tangy, but a water theme park may not have the same approach, which is why we like it, different.


© Laziz Hamani

These perfumes all include ingredients and inspirations that are unusual, as they attempt to rework and change perfumes we may already be fond of. Using deserts, sexual pleasure, science, ink and even water parks as a form of motivation, these scents have tested and pushed the boundaries of the perfume world, making us uncomfortable and forcing the bold and daring to try something new.

Fragrance is important to many of us in all aspects, including our homes. While we are continuing to look at ways in which we explore scent, Ikea in collaboration with Ben Gorham of Byredo are also introducing a new concept for home design, the importance of fragrance in relation to memory, and therefore the atmosphere we create in our homes. Byredo was founded in 2006 by Ben Gorham and it offers a range of different fragrances, including candles, for homes. The collection will attempt to explore the relationship we have with memory and scent, as they have a very strong link. A particular scent can transport us back to our favourite childhood memory, a summer at the beach, an afternoon at a park with friends, an afternoon on your sofa with a book, it all depends on which scent captured these memories.

“We live in a very aesthetic world. Design is more accessible than ever, we learn as children about the names of colours, shapes, how to count, how to read. You learn about apparel and furniture, we use the internet every day which is endless in terms of altering our visual perception. I feel people just don’t reflect enough when it comes to scent, but smell is a very relevant part of our life and also the home. To collaborate on this idea of “invisible design” with IKEA, getting people to think about smell is very exciting. I enjoy their openness to new ideas and the experimental nature of what we’re doing” – Ben Gorham, founder of Byredo. This is a beautiful way to explore scent, using memory and emotion to evoke a particular feeling within us. The collection is set to launch in 2018, and will allow people to understand scent in a different way, using emotion as the main selling point, rather than attraction.

For some, the perfume world is something that they enjoy exploring in order to discover new things, for others, it is the world of food in which they enjoy exploring. Yet again, this is not for those who are not daring, and willing to try new things. These are some foods which are taking the world by storm, shocking taste buds internationally and causing a storm amongst food enthusiasts, and as our world becomes smaller we all become part of new food sensations.

Interesting food to be explored;


A traditional Sardinian dish of sheep milk cheese with live maggots. You have to be extremely adventurous to stomach this, if you have a phobia of insects. Although it doesn’t look or sound appealing, it has a reputation of being very tasty and is very well known.


This Japanese delicacy is puffer fish prepared in a strict and specific way, so it doesn’t kill you. Yes. If this dish is not prepared correctly it is literal poison, so trying this out is at your own risk.


This is a cuisine that is commonly made in the united states, and is known as being very tasty. It is unusual but the fast food element is what sped up the process of popularity for this food.


These rice crackers do in fact contain real wasps and are sold all over Japan. It is definitely an interesting modern concept; need to be very courageous if you would like to try these, to say the least.


Fried spider is a popular delicacy in the town of Skuon in Cambodia and it has become a very popular attraction for the outgoing tourists passing through, aiming to try new things.


The century egg is a common street food in China, and is regularly given out as a common sign of respect. It is literally an old egg, hence the name ‘century’ old.

Being adventurous can mean different things for everyone, some like to experiment with clothes, others with perfume, and those that are really daring may even want to experiment with these interesting foods.

IKEA in collaboration with Ben Gorham will launch their collection in 2018.

Somerset house perfume exhibition ‘Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent’  starts on the 21st June- 17th of september 2017! So you have plenty of time to explore your adventurous side.

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