Once upon a time, we humans were just wee little multicellular organisms swimming in the primordial ooze.
And do you know what our first sensory interaction with our surroundings was then?
Not vision, no, though that’s a good guess.
We didn’t get our eyespots for a little while….
Not touch either. Remember, we had very limited processing power so early on….
Not taste (this may’ve been a blessing) or even hearing.
The first of our five senses was the power of scent.
From flights of fantasy to scientific frontiers, scent design, like a musical score or dramatic lighting, is a powerful, proven tool to set a scene, tell a story, conjure a memory, enhance an experience, and connect us with our deepest selves — that little primordial animal brain which still drives our most vivid experiences, even (especially) in today’s modern world.
Working with scents for a over decade has given me a body of experience ranging from “olfactory set dressing” for avant-guarde theatre to commercially branded snacks of the future, from luxury body care in designer spas to selfie-stick-wielding unicorns prancing in a cloud of bubblegum.
As a craftsperson I’m able to pivot between fantastical artificial fragrances to farm-to-bottle essential oils with a focus on allergen and sensitivity awareness.
Another delightful challenge of this all too often, well, overlooked field is the wide variety of techniques and technologies for delivering any given aroma. In this way, scent is a kind of lightning in a bottle - ephemeral, elusive, sometimes even fantastically volatile. Working with a diverse array of clients and collaborators has given me an extensive toolkit for tricks of the trade, letting me dial in the settings from intimate to grand, subtly suggestive to unmistakably impactful, visible to invisible.
Years of research and development, experience with manufacturers from around the world, and a specialization in custom blends enables me to nimbly meet the needs of each of my clients with this invisible yet powerful medium.
Selected Scent Design CV:
2018 Caravan Rally 2018 - Explorers’ Guild Troop 001, Oakland, CA to Ashland OR
Guest artist. 24 hour community-building interactive theatre road trip. Olfactory design and production for unicorn and delectable acts.
Guest artist. Performed original cicatra-kintsugi (gilding of scars with gold leaf and rosewater) with guests at local public literary event.
2018 - 2019 Bulbs of Spring - Elsewhere Philatelic Society, Oakland and San Francisco CA
Creator, parton, volunteer for annual neighborhood daffodil bulb giveaways. Public space olfactory dressing.
2017 Infernal Motel - Epic Immersive, the Rathskeller Club, San Francisco CA
Olfactory set design and production for site-specific immersive theatre piece.
2017 Experience and Immersive Design - University of California, Berkeley
Guest lecturer - “The Role of Scent in Experiential and Immersive Design”
2016 Deliciously Unexpected – Wasserman Media Group for Pepsico, San Francisco CA
Guest artist and game-runner. Developed olfactory, audio, and flavor pairings for table activation for "Social Palate" technology and food event
2016 Boutique Sensorium – Kulturehaus for Pepsico, Milan Italy
Guest artist, assistant set dresser, perfume designer, live interactive olfactory performance for 2 day private event at Milan Design Week
2016 One Last Day – The Rathskeller Club, San Francisco CA
Guest artist, olfactory design and live immersive olfactory performance for original interactive sensory play by Justin Oliphant.
2015 The Headlands Gamble – First Person Travel, San Francisco CA
Guest artist, personalized interaction consultant, designer and producer. Original olfactory design and production.
Working closely with director Bunny Holmes and musician Jesse Buddington, I designed and manufactured two original scents: Arch, a heady, sultry forest scent applied in the lobby to establish the hypnotic atmosphere of the Hinge universe, and Wendy-Cat, a spine-tingling, animalistic musk for Wendy, Vespertine's very own nine-foot velveteen tiger (who still sometimes comes out to play).
2015 The Fallen Cosmos – San Francisco Institute of Possibility, San Francisco CA
Guest artist (“Music of the Cosmos” inspired by Amelia Hamrick) for 600+ participant event. Olfactory design, production, and performance.
2015 Book 2, The Latitude Society for Nonchalance, San Francisco CA
Original design and development for multi-site interactive experience. Set design and production, olfactory design, prop curation. Conception, script writing, creative direction and project management of original audio track, supporting lore and events.
2014 Book 1, The Latitude Society for Nonchalance, San Francisco CA
Production assistant, set and experience design, olfactory set dressing, writing, voice acting, guest artist coordination, intern management, community building.
2012 Vasper Systems, Mountain View CA
Site manager, executive assistant, personal trainer, program developer for biotech firm. Specialized in custom essential oil blends.
2011 - 2012 Montclair Skincare, Oakland CA
Research & development, manufacturing, marketing, S&H, workshop hosting, vending for independent holistic body-care company. Carried by Whole Foods, Claremont Hotel Spa, various boutiques and farmers’ markets througout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Milan Style Week for PepsiCo, 2016
Reviewing samples onsite, 2017
photo credit: Tyler Hybeck
Midnight Snack: Synesthesia Play-testing
Playfully experimenting with synesthetic techniques for “aromatic seasoning” project.
Music: “Starman” by David Bowie, cover by Seu Jorge
“Dessert is served!”
”Mermaid strawberries” paired with ultrasonic peppermint seasoning.
In the studio at American Steel, 2011
photo credit: Jay Erker
Field testing, 2018
Reference library, 2011
photo credit: Jay Erker
Homegrown tuberose, 2018