Calling all independent, niche and artisan perfumers. Submissions for the 2015 Art and Olfaction Awards are now open. This new awards programs was launched last year by Saskia Wilson-Brown of the Institute for Art and Olfaction, to showcase the tremendous fragrant works of art crafted by small producers around the world. These noses work independently, are not funded by big perfume house conglomerates and are mostly self-funded, small businesses where everything is done by hand by the person creating the scents.
If you're at all familiar with the the fragrance industry, you might say that the Art and Olfaction Awards are akin to the movie industry's Spirit Awards for indie films, as compared to the established Fifi awards (now called the Fragrance Foundation Awards), considered the Oscars of the perfume world.
Winners receive a Golden Pear. It's a unique symbol for an awards statue. Saskia says they came up with the pear as a way to represent concepts of "value, beauty and myth-making. It seemed to me that the Golden Pear could be plucked out of an old Russian-style fairy tale," she says. "It got me thinking about how we create stories around the human experience. That resonated with what we are hoping to do with the awards - create stories, a mythology of sorts, around independent and artisan perfumery."
Saskia created the Institute for Arts and Olfaction in Los Angeles in 2012, a non-profit organization that promotes artistry in perfume by providing education and artistic collaborations. It's a venue for exploring scent as art.
2014 award winners include Ashoka by Neela Vermeire Creations, König by Yosh, Calling all Angels by April Aromatics and John Frum by Aether Arts Perfumes.
For 2015 there are three categories: Artisan, Independent and Experimental. I for one am looking forward to the scents submitted for the Experimental category. It's been named the Sadakichi Experimental Award for Sadakichi Hartmann, who, in 1902 staged "A Trip to Japan in 16 Minutes," the first scent concert, which failed miserably. The Institute for Arts & Olfaction recreated the experience for a modern era earlier this year.
Five finalists in each category will be chosen. From that, two winners in the Artisan and two winners in the Independent categories will be chosen. There will be only one award in the Experimental category.
The Art and Olfaction Awards call for entries is now open and Saskia says vials are already trickling in. Submissions are due by December 19. Last year there were just over 100 entries, "a little more than we expected in our first year," says Saskia.
Finalists will be announced in Milan at Esxence in March 2015 (a major perfume industry trade show) and winners will be named at a red carpet gala on April 17, 2015 at The Goethe Institut in LA.
"It's gonna be a big year," Saskia says, "and I'm very excited."
Photos by Steven Rimilinger and Nicolas Kaviani.