Aroma research

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutors: Sylvie Berry, Sarah Burri, Alice Dattée, Camille Leguay/ perfumers

Project manager: Mathieu Marion

 

Objectives: 
Which molecules do smells come from? Where do the raw materials for perfumes come from? How do scientists manage to reproduce natural smells? What is a perfume made of? How is a perfume created?
“Aroma Research” lets pupils be inventive while learning and interpreting chemical principles. With the help of a perfumer, they created their own perfumes from natural or artificial ingredients.

Workshop: 
The aim was to learn about the chemistry of smell in a project combining scientific research, experimentation and creativity. To help the pupils get their bearings in this world and make their own perfume, the project was divided into three phases:

A nose for smelling
To start with, the tutor showed the pupils the "classical" ingredients used in perfume making. They discovered many of the natural and synthetic raw materials used to make fragrances. They also explored some of the principles of smell (the physiological process, scents and emotions and the principles and techniques of memorising odours).

A nose for knowing
Knowledge of science, especially chemistry, was used to refine or create new techniques in capturing scents. This second phase brought the pupils into contact with scientific notions used in the chemistry of perfumes. It was constructed around tests and experiments: discovering principles, understanding the properties of blends or reproducing natural fragrances in the laboratory. Synthesis of aromatic compounds, extraction, distillation and enfleurage were key ideas.

A nose for creating
The class and the tutor used this knowledge to develop a perfume. A perfume is a particular fragrance, which is related to the perception of a chemical molecule, but it also involves a series of choices: attack, structure, head note, base note, olfactory families. In this core part of the project, the class was divided into groups and asked to imagine the person who would wear this perfume (a woman, a man or both; the wearer's pastimes, character, personality). The group defined the evocative register of its perfume and described it (sources of inspiration: memories, moods, smells, landscapes, etc.). They then wrote the recipe (olfactory family, ingredients) and made the perfume. 

Exhibition:
The scents made by the pupils were presented in the participating schools. Over 700 samples were produced and put on display in a pop-up perfume store in each college, giving teachers and pupils an opportunity to test what the pupils had created. A sniff of the olfactory trail of their project.

Outings (selection):
- ISIPCA (HIGHER INSTITUTE OF PERFUMES, COSMETICS AND FOOD AROMAS), VISIT TO THE LABORATORY;
- OSMOTHÈQUE, CONSERVATOIRE INTERNATIONAL DES PARFUMS, VISIT TO THE SCENT LIBRARY ON THE THEME OF THE HISTORY OF PERFUME;
- PALAIS DE LA DÉCOUVERTE, SCENTS AND PERFUMES WORKSHOP;
- PALAIS DE TOKYO, VISIT TO THE CHANEL N°5 EXHIBITION;
- GIVAUDAN, VISIT TO THE PLANT PRODUCING THE RAW MATERIALS.

Participating middle schools:
- Class (3rd 8), Collège Le Parc,Aulnay-sous-Bois.
- Class (6th pp), Collège Marais-de-Villiers, Montreuil.
- Class (3rd 3), Collège Saint-Exupéry,Noisy-le-Grand.
- Class (3rd E), Collège Camille-Claudel, Villepinte.
- Class (4th 4), Collège Jean-Jaurès, Villepinte.