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Tiphaine Illouz
Entretien | 4 mars
5 mn

Dawn Goldworm - Perfumer of life
Dawn Goldworm est dotée d'un sixième sens rare : la synesthésie. C'est ce qui la fait vivre.

As she was training at a major producer of fragrances and flavors, ten years ago, Dawn Goldworm had a former perfumer as a mentor who also happened to be a painter. When looking at his works, she was struck by one thing: it was as if she could smell perfumes coming from the paintings. So she had her nose tested, just to discover that she was endowed with a rare gift: synestesia. This gift she had to make use of.
With her sister Samantha she founded in 2009 their own fragrance agency, 12.29, specialized in ‘olfactive branding’. The company designs unique ‘scent-identities’, or ‘scent-logos’, for corporate environments, public spaces, special events as well as private homes. Dawn Goldworm explains how she managed to turn her exceptional qualities into a fascinating job.

Pluris – Can you explain what exactly synestesia is?

Dawn Goldworm – Synestesia is a condition that, when you use one sense, you involuntarily or automatically understand another one. When a normal person see or smell something, they just see or smell it. When someone who has synestesia sees something, for instance, they might feel it automatically, without trying to project it. It just happens. When I smell champagne, for instance, I see its color, its texture, and its shape in my mind. By extension, I can translate any kind of color, texture, and emotion into an olfactive structure, and any smell into a color, a texture or an emotion. Plus I have a very acute olfactive memory: it allows me to make scents that talk to everyone.

How did you start your company?

I worked as an inside nose at the celebrity perfumes department of an American company for eight years, and I had the opportunity to design scents for David and Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue, and ultimately for Lady Gaga. I felt as if there was not a bigger celebrity than her whom I could work with!

What kind of companies should get a ‘scent-logo’? What are the benefits for them?

At the beginning, I thought the most interesting brands to design olfactive identities for would be Apple, Virgin, very big brands that have such an impact on people’s life. But afterwards we’ve signed some big plans with hotel groups, art fairs, fashion shows, night clubs… All brands want to be the first thing associated with a positive experience by their clients. So capitalizing on people’s olfactive memory makes sense, because olfaction resounds so powerfully with our emotional memory that it is easy to relate it closely to a brand.

With which color, for example, would you spontaneously associate a glass of champagne?

For me drinking a glass of champagne is like drinking gold. It’s interesting because the gold color usually comes from an amber note, and champagne obviously does not contain amber! But its effervescence and its texture remind me of gold anyway. The color that I smell is not necessarily based on the color of the ingredient. For instance, the blackcurrant, or cassis, doesn’t smell red for me, but slightly red, a little bit green and very yellow, because of its high sulfur content.
More about perfuming life and brands here: 12.29
Crédits photo :
Article paru dans le numéro #13 ESSENCE
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