Have you ever had an experience smelling colour?

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller
escentric molecules 1

As an industry colour specialist, I’m often asked to share my thoughts on business branding, product colours and the multi-sensory experience. Recently, I was approached by fragrance company, Escentric Molecules, to comment on their recently updated brand packaging and to explore the idea – can we smell colour? 

If you’re not familiar with Escentric Molecules, they are a cutting-edge fragrance house founded by legendary ‘nose’ Geza Schoen, who set out to revolutionise the world of fragrance by releasing a single aroma chemical fragrance, which had never been done before.

Not being a fragrance wearer, I wasn’t aware of the company until they contacted me and sent me a beautiful box of their fragrances so that I could experience their scents. And now that I have, I’m a convert and will be making an exception to my non fragrance wearing norm.

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In my article for Escentric Molecules, I explore the connection between colour and smell. And looked to answer the question, could the colours on their fragrance packaging lead us to make those all-important initial connections: smell the scent, evoke memories and connect us to our emotions? 

What we are talking about here is multi-sensory experiences.


And the most amazing multi-sensory experience is the phenomenon called synaesthesia, which only 1 – 4% of the population experience it. As a medical journal wrote: “This is a rare blending of the senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell) in which the stimulation of one sense triggers a predictable and reproducible effect in another sense.”

The journal goes onto say: “Synaesthesia is something you can’t control, and the response happens right away. For example, if you hear a new piece of music, you may see a colour or taste a flavour without any effort. It just happens.”

For the rest of us, it’s more likely that our multi-sensory experience has developed our link of colour to smell through past experience or associated memories. We remember the smell of citrus fruits, lavender or freshly cut grass. When we see the colour that we have associated with that smell, we pair them together. So you could say, in our own way, we smell colour too.

Behind the scent

Escentric Molecules aim with their fragrances, to deliver a multi-sensory experience which in turn inspired their unique packaging.

In my article I look at the new packaging for five of their existing fragrances and break down the connections I made to the three ways we relate to colour: colour association, colour symbolism and colour psychology.

If you would like to read the full article, head over to Escentric Molecules blog.

Once you have read it, pop back here and leave a comment as I would love to hear: do you think we can smell colour? or, have you ever had an experience smelling colour?

Colourfully yours,

Banner image courtesy of Escentric Molecule.

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