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Envy, Insolence and Beyond: a Talk with Maurice Roucel

Posted: January 23, 2007

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Creative Process

Roucel alluded to the fact that perfumers are not machines, nor are they 100% scientists. Perfumers require trial and error to create fragrances. A certain ratio of failure is built into the creative process. Roucel alluded to that inexactitude of creation when he said, “If you have an idea, it’s in some kind of mist.”

“They have intuition,” he said. “[Scientists] are rational; they demonstrate with mathematics. But you need further intuition. You cannot arrive at a perfume, you cannot arrive at a new theory in physics, if you are not fairly intuitive.”

Often, that intuition is a shared one. Roucel in many ways defies the auteur image of the traditional artist, highlighting the benefits – and indeed necessities – of collaboration.

“You have the first level [of inspiration] where you have to be obsessed with the idea of the perfume that you can share with somebody, somebody you trust, somebody who will be able to make for a good ‘tennis game’.” This interaction with colleagues appears crucial to Roucel’s process. But the process is only as good as its participants. “You cannot enjoy a tennis game with somebody who is not on the right level.”