French design student Charline Ronzon-Jaricot has created a "scent vase" that enables users to detect the different notes of a perfume usually only identifiable to experts.
Charline Ronzon-Jaricot's Ascentium glass vessel is suspended in a polished brass frame above a candle on a ceramic white tile. A drop of perfume is placed in the bottom of the vase, and is slowly evaporated by the flame below.
Perfumes are made up of notes that can be grouped into three categories – or notes – according to how long it takes to detect them after application. These are used together in combinations to complement each other and create an overall aroma.
The scent's "head" notes are composed of lighter molecules and so evaporate first using Ronzon-Jaricot's device, which enables the user to smell them independently of the rest of the perfume.
As the perfume heats up to a boil, the "heart" notes and finally the "base" notes will rise up out of the device.
"I realised that our sense of smell was a really powerful and yet relatively unknown sense," Ronzon-Jaricot told Dezeen. "I was astonished that our super-developed and aware society hadn't given much more importance to it yet."
"There is something that really deeply affects us and yet we are not really aware of it," she added.
The Ascentium vase is intended to help elevate perception and understanding of perfumery.
"Perfume is an art and its creators – perfumiers – are artists," said the designer. "But the image we have of perfumes today is stuck in the luxury and fashion context. We never take the time to contemplate a perfume for its own beauty. Too much importance is given to the packaging and the brand image but not enough to the smell."
The project grew out of Ronzon-Jaricot's research into the "retronasal nares" that link the mouth and the nose.
Located behind the nose, they allow the olfactory molecules of food to reach the nose thanks to heat in the mouth.
A student at the École Boulle design school in Paris, Ronzon-Jaricot has also created a device that releases a bespoke scent during a moment users would like to remember as part of the same project.