How Folie à Plusieurs Uses Scent to Amplify Emotional Encounters with Art | The Slowdown - Culture, Nature, Future
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A stick of incense balanced with four pieces of stone
Incense from Folie à Plusieurs’s new Co line. (Photo: Dave Herron)

Anyone who’s ever inhaled the air in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Egyptian wing, which has the vaguest trace of millenia-old papyrus (or is it sarcophagi?), knows how scent can capture and enhance the act of taking in works of art. The concept is one that creative director Kaya Sorhaindo champions with Folie à Plusieurs, the Berlin-born, New York–based olfactory agency he founded in 2016 that creates aromatic profiles in partnership with institutions, artists, musicians, and other creative entities.

Take its collaboration with New York’s Noguchi Museum and London’s Erased Tapes Records, with which the firm recently launched Co, a line of incense made by Kungyokudo, one of Japan’s oldest incense suppliers, each of which comes with a downloadable link to an album composed to accompany the savor as it burns. In a similar vein, Folie à Plusieurs has created several fragrances for movies, including The Virgin Suicides, The Lobster, and Blow-Up, presented through its Le Cinéma Olfactif series in theaters at the membership club SoHo House, where a custom scent diffused through the room adds another sensory dimension to a given scene. It’s also worked with Manhattan’s New Museum, and devised two perfumes that emulate the smell of walking through the space: Aspects of 1, created by the brand’s resident nose, Mark Buxton (the perfumer behind Comme des Garçons’s first scent), has a warm, musky aroma that evokes the building’s metal façade and neon lights, and Aspects of 2, designed by French perfumer David Chieze, references the cold, metallic odor of concrete used throughout the structure. (Both scents are available exclusively in the museum’s shop.)

This fall, Folie à Plusieurs will continue to use scent as a vehicle for deepening emotional encounters with art. September marks the launch of 111hz and 222hz, a pair of fragrances devised with South African photographer Lea Colombo in response to her “Colours Of My Body” series of portraits, as well as a quarterly publication, Magazine Folie, with seven corresponding fragrances, each informed by an artist or editorial section featured within. “Our aim is to elevate the cultural value of fragrance,” Sorhaindo says, “and to broaden its meaning and relationship to the human experience.”

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