In this 3-part seminar, learn the basics of perfumery, delve into the history of the practice, explore aromatic materials, and create your first short perfume formulas.
Led by Saskia Wilson-Brown, the founder and director of The Institute for Art and Olfaction, this course will provide an overview of perfumery—from the history and foundations of the craft to the contemporary industry and experimental perfume practices. Starting with the basics of lab safety for your at-home studio, Saskia will provide a humor-laced, facts-based introduction to the art and science of working with scent. Together, we'll explore fragrance families, materials of natural and synthetic origin, and lab work. We'll look at a historic formula, spend time smelling our materials, create several short perfume formulas, and wrap up the course with a glimpse into the perfume industry with a focus on independent and experimental practices. Get your noses ready and we'll explore this craft together!
Syllabus at a Glance
There are three total sessions included in this purchase, each meeting once per week for two hours.
Summer Section C: Wednesdays starting September 15
Session 1 (Wednesday, 9/15, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Lab Basics: Safety, tools, and fragrance families
Session 2 (Wednesday, 9/22, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Materials and Strategies
Session 3 (Wednesday, 9/29, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Industry: Mainstream vs. artisan practices
Summer Section D: Thursdays starting September 16
Session 1 (Thursday, 9/16, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Lab Basics: Safety, tools, and fragrance families
Session 2 (Thursday, 9/23, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Materials and Strategies
Session 3 (Thursday, 9/30, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Industry: Mainstream vs. artisan practices
Fall Section A: Mondays starting October 18
Session 1 (Monday, 10/18, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Lab Basics: Safety, tools, and fragrance families
Session 2 (Monday, 10/25, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Materials and Strategies
Session 3 (Monday, 11/1, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Industry: Mainstream vs. artisan practices
Fall Section B: Tuesdays starting November 2
Session 1 (Tuesday, 11/2, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Lab Basics: Safety, tools, and fragrance families
Session 2 (Tuesday, 11/9, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Materials and Strategies
Session 3 (Tuesday, 11/16, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Industry: Mainstream vs. artisan practices
Fall Section C: Mondays starting November 15
Session 1 (Monday, 11/15, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Lab Basics: Safety, tools, and fragrance families
Session 2 (Monday, 11/22, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Materials and Strategies
Session 3 (Monday, 11/29, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Industry: Mainstream vs. artisan practices
Fall Section D: Mondays starting December 6
Session 1 (Monday, 12/6, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Lab Basics: Safety, tools, and fragrance families
Session 2 (Monday, 12/13, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Materials and Strategies
Session 3 (Monday, 12/20, 6:30–8:30 PM ET): Industry: Mainstream vs. artisan practices
Between sessions two and three, participants will be assigned four short accords so they can compare small formulas in the final session.
As part of this class, The IAO and Atlas Obscura have teamed up with Perfumer's Apprentice to offer a materials kit containing 18 aromatic materials and some basic labware for this class. The cost of this kit is $82 plus shipping and handling. Order your kit here. We recommend ordering your kit as soon as you have purchased a spot on the course to ensure that you are able to receive it in time for class, though please note it is not strictly necessary to have received the kit by the first session.
Please note that these are professional grade perfume materials and although we have selected all our materials with safety in mind (and none of the materials are allergens), there is nevertheless a slight possibility that you may experience a sensitivity to one or two of them. We request you do not work with your materials kit until our first class, in which we will cover health and safety when working with perfume. If you consider yourself highly sensitive to fragrance, we recommend you not take this class.
If you are unable to pay the ticket price for this course, a limited number of no-pay spots are available to increase accessibility for students, regardless of economic situation. Please note that this option is first-come, first-served, and reserved for those who would not otherwise be able to take this course. To learn more about our approach to pricing, including no-pay options, please visit our FAQ page.
Atlas Obscura Online Courses
Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for up to two weeks following the final session of the course.
To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit www.atlasobscura.com/online-courses.
For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.
Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to the class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access your course via Zoom on each scheduled date and time.
After receiving an MA in fine art from Central Saint Martins, Saskia Wilson-Brown co-directed the Silver Lake Film Festival and ran international filmmaker outreach at Al Gore’s Current TV while producing initiatives around new models in the arts. In 2012, her interest in multivalent practices led her to create The Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO), a non-profit devoted to access and experimentation in the field of perfumery. Through the IAO, she has launched projects with institutions such as Pulitzer Foundation, Getty Institute, Hammer Museum, Wallace Collection, New Mexico Highlands University, and many more. In 2013, she launched the Art and Olfaction Awards, an international awards mechanism for independent perfumers, and in 2018 she launched Open Sourcing Smell Culture, an initiative devoted to open source principles in perfumery. She recently served as a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art in London, and is currently producing a new radio show called Perfume on the Radio, finishing a documentary about ownership and historic reconstruction in the field of perfumery while pursuing a PhD about the historic and contemporary relationship between perfume, access and power.
This is an interactive, small-group, seminar-style course that meets over Zoom. Students may be invited to participate in discussions, workshop their projects, and receive feedback from the course instructor.
In most cases, instructors will use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Classroom, instructors will be using this platform to post resources, discussion questions, and assignments, when applicable.
We provide closed captioning for all of our courses, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at email@example.com if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.
There are 23 spots available on this experience.
Mon, Oct 18, 20216:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.$215
Tue, Nov 2, 20216:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.$215
Mon, Nov 15, 20216:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.$215
Mon, Dec 6, 20216:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.$215