The Field of Odors: Toward a Universal Language for Odor Relationships

All odors that we smell trigger feelings and sensations that affect our memory and psyche. It is when we try to express the odor in terms that would be universally understood that we find ourselves limited by the poverty of language, As a result, we try to conjure up this experience in our mind and express it in readily understandable terms. These terms may, to our benefit, describe our own personal reaction to the aroma, but more often they are based on empirical and more commonly used descriptive terms, while the feefings that are triggered by stimulus are more often than not lost in the words. As a consequence we, as human beings, have a natural tendency to associate and connect an aroma stimulus with an actual material source whether this is real or a “forcefit. However, the notion of a non-material source for the odor stimulus is still present in our informational data bank of past events and feelings.

The origin of the aroma, which can stimulate an emotion, event, memory, previous situation or object association, gives us, at least in the imaginary sense, a free hand in odor association. However, subjective (intuitive) and personal characterization of the odorous space ususally makes it impossible to share the information with others. This is true even among professionals such as designers, researchers, perfumers and product developers, who find themselves facing this problem daily.

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