It’s easy to use pictures and sound recordings to capture a moment in time, but to me nothing unlocks a flood of memories quite like a familiar smell. But we can’t exactly capture smell the same way we can snap a photo. Until now.
London-based designer Amy Radcliffe has launched the Scentography project to capture scents and transform them into odor-based snapshots. The ceramic Madeleine device can capture the molecular make-up of a particular scent, and reproduce it in “scent memory capsules” using technology (Headspace Capture, pioneered in the 1970s and 1980s by chemist Roman Kaiser) already deployed in the fragrance industry.
Objects are placed inside a glass dome attached to an air hose. Air sucked from the dome passes through an odor trap (an absorbent polymer resin). The resin is used to generate scent data that Radcliffe uses to create the scent capsules.
Bespoke scent “photos” may not have much practical purpose, but the Madeleine does have some romantic appeal, and the prototype has a charming, retro look that evokes both chemistry and whimsy.