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: Sarah Burri, Alice Dattee, Camille Leguay, Ségolène Rolland/ 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? “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.School 

Workshops:
The aim was to learn about the chemistry of perfumes in a project combining scientific research, experimentation and inventiveness. To help the pupils get their bearings in this world and make their own perfumes, 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, the sense of smell 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 prolonged 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
A perfume is a particular fragrance, which is related to the perception of a chemical molecule, but it also involves a series of choices regarding its attack, structure, head note, base note, and 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 chose what they wanted for their perfume (olfactory family, the raw ingredients associated with this description) and composed it.

Outcome:
The pupils presented the scents they had made 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. It was a sort of olfactory trail of their project. 

 

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

Participating schools:
- Class (4th SEGPA), Collège Monod, Gagny
- Class (6th PP), Collège Marais-de-Villiers, Montreuil
- Class (4th SEGPA), Collège Jean Moulin, Montreuil
- Class (3rd 3), Collège Saint-Exupéry, Noisy-le-Grand
- Class (6th A), Collège Anatole France, Pavillon-sous-Bois.

 

Photo: PIERRE ANTOINE

Aroma research