On the evening of Saturday, May 6th the fourth annual Art and Olfaction Awards was held at Berlin's Silent Green Kulturquartier—a former crematorium built in 1911 revitalized as an arts venue.
The awards are given to four perfumes and one experimental scent project a year, The Art and Olfaction Awards are designed to raise public interest and awareness around new developments in independent perfumery. The Awards, established in 2014 by the Institute for Art and Olfaction, are given to outstanding creators in the categories of independent, artisan, and experimental perfume from across the globe, chosen for perfumes released in 2016.
The winners this year were, in the artisan category, Bruise Violet by Sixteen92 and Mélodie de l'Amour by Parfums Dusita; in the independent category, Fathom V by BeauFort London and Altruist by J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin; and the Sadakichi Award, Osmodrama Berlin / Smeller 2.0 by Wolfgang Georgsdorf.
In addition, in partnership with Pochpac, the first ever Contribution to Scent Culture Award was presented to Christophe Laudamiel.
Each A+O Award winner received The Golden Pear, which continues to cement its status as a prestigious achievement in the perfume world.
The evening began with a cocktail and casual dinner at MARS in the Silent Green Kulturquartier, before being summoned into the great room, where guests were treated to ethereal vocal improvisations by Snowblink, a musician based in Los Angeles who tends to connect the auditory with the olfactory. Saskia Wilson-Brown, the founder of the Institute for Art and Olfaction, opened the evening with a rundown of the awards, and how they are judged. "Our goals are pretty simple, they are not lofty, other than to celebrate artisan, independent, and experimental perfumers," she said. "We aim to treat their work with respect, regardless of marketing budgets."
Perfumer Andy Tauer--a judge in the awards--then introduced the Artisan Category Finalists. "What I smelled was courageous, creative, and brave," he said of the judging process. "And to those of you who weren't selected as finalists, my message to you is: please continue. Go beyond the frontier, because there's a lot of boring perfume out there, and we really need you to [make the exciting perfume that you are making.]”
Writer Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc introduced the independent finalists with a thoughtful speech on the challenges of judging and importance of memorable perfumes, and Caro Verbeek introduced the Sadakichi Award Finalists with well-researched connections to past art works.
The winners gave heartfelt speeches, such as Pissara Umavijani of Dusita Parfums, who dedicated her award-winning scent, Mélodie de l'Amour, to her late father with tears in her eyes, and Wolfgang Georgsdorf, whose olfactory art project, Osmodrama Berlin with Smeller 2.0, won to a thunderous applause from the hometown Berlin audience. As judge and presenter Ashraf Osman said: "The Golden Pear will stay in Berlin."
As each winner was announced, a scent strip with the winning perfume was passed out to the members of the audience, providing a real-time scent experience.
Finally, world-renowned perfume writer and critic Luca Turin delivered a brief closing remarks, announcing that he is in the process of compiling a brand new edition of his legendary Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, first published in 2008 as the world's inaugural perfume compendium. "This is the best smelling audience...ever," he said, addressing the attendees. "Most public events are spoiled by somebody wearing something diabolically awful. You made sure that is not the case, and I thank you for that."
He concluded the evening by singling out Art and Olfaction Awards founder Saskia Wilson-Brown for her dedication to the world of niche perfumery. "She does an extraordinary service to a neglected art, and you continue to do so every year," he said.
After the awards, attendees congregated for an unofficial afterparty at Amano Bar, where discussions about scent went deep into the night. It was a fitting end to the Awards, which began with the Experimental Scent Summit on Friday, May 5th, 2017, an important series of presentations by some of the greatest intellects working in olfactory art, organized by Saskia Wilson-Brown in collaboration with artist Klara Ravat.