Dezeen Magazine

May Kukula's Aroma set produces homemade room fragrances

German design student May Kukula has created a Moroccan-inspired pot and a set of tools that enable users to "cook" their own bespoke scents.

Aroma Set by May Kulula

To create smells using Kukula's Aroma set, a mixture of ingredients is boiled in a porcelain bowl shaped like a tagine – an earthenware pot used in North African cooking.

Simmered over a candle flame, the concoction evaporates through a hole in the lid and emits a scent for fragrancing a room.

Aroma Set by May Kulula

"The project invites one to experiment with spices, herbs and oils to create a unique scent," Kukula told Dezeen. "The name of the game is to improvise. However as a starting point, a few recipes and basic information about the ingredients are given to the user."

The round porcelain bowl and its lid rest on a brass stand and tray, and come with a large stirring spoon.

Aroma Set by May Kulula

Kukula chose porcelain and brass to create the components after researching the history of materials used to make alchemy tools and vessels.

"I started working with porcelain long time ago and got to love this material," Kukula told Deezen. "For an object which uses heat to create scent, porcelain is a great material as it keeps heat and has a neutral odour, and brass adds to the elegance of the cool and clean porcelain."

Aroma Set by May Kulula

While testing her method, Kukula managed to spark curiosity in the people outside her room, which was ultimately her goal.

"In an advanced stage of experimenting of steaming spices, people started coming into the room to find out where this smell comes from," Kukula told Dezeen. "This was a sign for me that my idea works the way I intended it to be."

Aroma Set by May Kulula

The Aroma set was one of 10 designs that won this year's Ikea Design Foundation award. Winners of the annual prize receive a fully funded semester abroad at the Ingvar Kamprad Design Centre at Lund University and retain all the rights of ownership for their products.

Kukula is currently finishing her bachelor degree at the Berlin University of Arts, but has plans to expand on her work with scents.

"I've already thought about the possibilities of extending the Aroma set further with tools such as a pestle and mortar," Kukula told Dezeen. "I love to involve elements of nature and well being in my concepts due to my curiosity and fascination about them."

Aroma Set by May Kulula

The project follows a trend for scent in design at this year's Milan design week.

Dutch brand Moooi, British designer Tom Dixon and Italian firm Kartell have all dipped their toes into the scent market with an array of candles, soaps and diffusers.

Additionally, designers from Design Academy Eindhoven and Lund University presented innovative ways of using scent in design.

Aroma Set by May Kulula
Diagram showing the scent-creation process

Kulula believes that embracing smell within design will have positive consequences.

"Today there is a tendency to design objects or spaces which deal with our sensual perception," Kulula told Dezeen. "So it is great to see this growing consciousness of this approach as it opens a whole new interesting world of possibilities and making."