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Telling Stories Through Scent
Is it possible to capture moods and memories in scent? Wandering in woodland after rain, the perfume of a passing stranger or the almost-forgotten scent of someone from a lifetime ago. Recreating these moments may seem like grasping at smoke, but it can be done.
How Scent Becomes a Memory
During your first encounter with a scent you begin to form nerve connections that intertwine the smell with emotions. No other senses have this simultaneous access, which is why scents take root in our subconscious and have the power to spark emotional memories.
Scent is intrinsically linked to survival as it’s the first sense we develop in the womb. We use to it determine comfort, safety, calm and danger from the moment we are born. Unsurprisingly, the capacities for both smell and emotion are part of the same network of brain structures.
This unique memory triggering process is rooted in literature as well as science. Odor-evoked autobiographical memory is sometimes nicknamed the Proust phenomenon after French author Marcel Proust. In his defining novel In Search of Lost Time the narrator famously indulges in some tea soaked cake and is flooded with involuntary memories of times gone by.
Telling Your Story In Scents
Particularly poignant memories may prompt us to wonder if it’s possible to re-experience scent encounters later using a fragrance.
Recapturing remembered scents is a note-by-note building process. Tajinder Banwait, Founder of Urban Apothecary, says: “Memories are my main inspiration. I’ll close my eyes and think back – does the memory evoke fruity or woody tones? Then I’ll keep layering key notes such as fig, rose or saffron until I’ve recorded the exact moment in time that first influenced me.”
For Tajinder, the power of scent has a personal significance: “Rose is a floral note that I hold incredibly dear, as 18 years ago my only brother passed away.
“The day after he passed our family gathered together when suddenly the door gently opened and the scent of rose wafted through the room like a breeze. We turned to one another and instinctively knew that he was there.”
Use The Right Scent To Change Your Mood
While scents have the power to conjure up memories of the past, we also use them to create a mood in the present. We’re so emotionally connected to scent that we often turn to our favourite fragrances to lift us up. Studies show that orange oil reduces anxiety, while jasmine promotes restfulness. As more people turn to slow living, the popularity of soothing scents has increased too.
Tajinder said: "When I want to enhance or change my mood, I’ll light a candle.
“If you want to relax, try the Green Lavender fragrance from our collection. It will bring to mind calming ocean waves, which is perfect for re-framing your thoughts after a day at work.
“If you’re lacking in energy, your go-to scent should be a citrus one. Try Verbena Leaves to give you an instant boost and make you feel happy.”
Adding at-home aromatherapy to your relaxation routine is simpler than you think. The next time you’ve had a long day, meditate and light a candle with a distinctive scent. After a few sessions, the scent will encourage a relaxed state even if you’re not meditating.
A Collection To Suit You
Scents are powerful. Their power to make us remember or encourage calm is unique. We believe that science and storytelling walk together hand in hand, so we’ve curated a collection that encourages recollection and reinvigoration for the ultimate sensory indulgence.