The smell of honey, wine, coasts and coffee may soon only be available in artificial form
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the morning has to be one of the best scents ever but, along with many natural fragrances, it could soon vanish due to climate change. The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store (T.E.M.P.S., French for time) bottles the scents that are set to disappear because of the environmental crisis.
Designer Catherine Young, the creator of T.E.M.P.S., tells PSFK:
My goal is to raise awareness on climate change by highlighting the things that we could lose. There are some smells that we take for granted, and most of us will have our own memories with these scents that may personalize the issue of climate change.
Rather than stating the effects of climate change in text or images, Young expresses the loss of natural resources in a physical and sensory form.
She tells us:
Smell is the sense that is the most visceral and the most intriguing. I also think it’s something that hasn’t been explored very much in terms of climate change awareness and at some point, we might get saturated with visuals.
Young used familiar scents to highlight the damage that climate change is wreaking on the natural world.
For example, coffee is endangered because the cool mountainsides that produce them are facing rising temperatures and an increase of pests due to the warmer weather.
The altering seasons are also putting honey at risk. Flowers are now opening their petals earlier, before bees have emerged from hibernation.
The scent of the seashore, which is so evocative of childhood days spent on the beach, could soon be forgotten as rising sea levels threaten to swallow up the world’s coastlines.
Enjoying a glass of wine may become a distant memory as the growth conditions for grapes change and the quality of the product diminishes.
Other scents in the series include peanuts, eucalyptus, hardwood trees and even ice. In the case of the latter, Young wants to show that we won’t appreciate some fragrances until they disappear. She explains, “There are some smells that we don’t even realize exist, such as the smell of ice that I hope to highlight.”
T.E.M.P.S. is currently on display at The Mind Museum in Manila as an educational project. The fragrances are not designed for commercial use, but to stimulate a conversation on the environment.
The perfumes are part of The Apocalypse Project, a speculative design research inquiry on climate change and its consequence on our future lifestyles. Previously, Young developed Climate Change Couture, a fashion collection designed for an overheated planet.
In The Apocalypse Project, I’m interested in exploring different futures and some of them are dystopic ones such as this. This is a future I don’t want to happen, but it could if we don’t get our act together.
T.E.M.P.S. is a sensory and evocative warning of the looming threat our planet faces. It proves that visual media is only one of the ways to express the loss of natural resources and that, unless we change our ways, the physical and sensory landscape that we take for granted could soon be destroyed.