Studio 360 did an interview with Chandler Burr, the New York Times' first ever perfume critic. He recently wrote a book called The Emperor of Scent. In it he recounts how physicist Luca Turin demystified the sense of smell. The guy was renowned for his combined prowess in both scent and the written word. He could go into great - and accurate - detail on the origins of a scent, and could wax poetic on its inspiration.
Chandler Burr recounted one story where Luca Turn visited a perfume manufacturer in France. He made friends with the perfumers, the genius scent architects for the perfume houses. They trusted him. Enough so that they shared with him their internal brief for the perfume, the coveted document that led to the famous scent. But they wanted him to describe the scent first.
He took one whiff, thought about it and said it made him picture Thai silk scarves, whose colors shift and shimmer in a changing light.
The perfumer almost fell over in disbelief. She took out the brief and read it to him. It instructed her fellow perfume scientists to create a scent that would shift in identities, like a fine Thai silk scarf shifts in different light.
What a nose. What a mind. And what a wonderful way to think of a brief. Imagine how you would write a brief if it were meant for a scent instead of, say, a print ad or event. The visual sense is so dominant in our work sometimes I think we almost forget about the others. Not just in our execution but in how we get there.