back to Media Releases
Chandler Burr
Media Release • 5 Sep 14

Hyper-Natural: Scent from Design to Art

A maze of clustered clouds will offer a sensory exploration of scent design when an installation and exhibition by New York curator of olfactory art Chandler Burr opens in the back garden of the NGV this Spring.

Hyper-Natural: Scent from Design to Art will present seven small scent stations shrouded in man-made clouds and scattered throughout the NGV’s garden. Each station will house one of seven specially selected synthetic scent molecules and be paired with a major olfactory work of design, or perfume, in which that molecule is a vital design element.

These seven molecular scents tell the story of olfactory design and innovation, offering visitors a visceral exploration of this little considered design medium.  The experience begins with the first molecule created in the 1850s and weaves its way through the misty landscape to the sophisticated molecular scents of today.

Chandler Burr commented, ‘Hyper-Natural shows the way new synthetic scent design materials had a huge impact on the way olfactory works were designed. Synthetic materials were increasingly used in the 20th century in all mediums, from architecture to painting, and they brought strange and wonderful new beauty to scent. They freed designers from the limits of nature and let them introduce previously impossible designs and styles ranging from Abstract Expressionism to Surrealism and Photo-Realism.’

Director of the NGV Tony Ellwood commented, ‘Like any art form or design discipline, the creation of a scent results from curiosity, experimentation and innovation. Yet perfume and scent creation is rarely appreciated as the thoughtful design process it is. For this reason we are thrilled to be presenting the first Australian exhibition to recognise scent as an important medium of artistic creation and design production.’

Curated by former New York Times perfume critic and author Chandler Burr, Hyper-Natural introduces us to this thoughtful, intricate, fascinating and under-acknowledged medium of design.

Mr Ellwood added, ‘We are delighted to be collaborating with Chandler Burr on this extraordinary project. Chandler’s insights into scent and its relationship with design will shift visitors’ perceptions in a poetic and profound way.’

In addition to the exhibition, a program of scent design events led by Burr will allow visitors to experience the world of olfactory art from many perspectives.

Burr will present a keynote lecture examining the global nature of the scent industry and the complex world of technology, nature and creativity, which coalesce to create any successful scent.

Burr wrote a seminal feature on scent in the New Yorker magazine in 2005 and has published books including The Emperor of Scent and The Perfect Scent. Burr is currently Curator of the Department of Olfactory Art in New York.

Burr commented, ‘A key inspiration for the project is to get visitors to move beyond mere emotional responses and memories and to recognise and think critically about scent design.’

-ends-

Download media release