Scent and synaesthesia

If you’ve seen our perfume playlists, it won’t surprise you to learn that I have synaesthesia.

The word synaesthesia comes from the Greek for ‘perceived together’. It’s when you experience one of your senses though another. The most common type of synaesthesia is to see letters, colours or sounds as colours, but there are multiple ways synaesthesia might affect you.

I suspect most perfumers have this, to some degree. There’s evidence to suggest that synaesthetes spend more time on creative arts than the average person, so it would make sense. I’ve heard one perfumer talking about fragrance notes as shapes, and composing a perfume is like fitting those shapes together. Another experiences an associated sound and pitch with each material.

I don’t have that, but I do sometimes intertwine colours with smells. For instance, Magic + Science is so clearly and strongly the smell of the colour purple – which was exactly what I was trying to achieve. It’s deeply personal though because, when I’ve asked other people what colour Magic + Science is, three people said variations of brown; ‘The colour of autumn leaves.’ ‘A maroony kind of colour’ and ‘A very very dark red, almost brown.’  I wish I could understand how they’re experiencing that! I’ve also heard it described as the colour of the night sky which was nice.

About Thyme is yellow – literally too. It’s got loads of natural materials that are richly coloured, so it ends up a beautiful vibrant yellow. I think this is because the smell is so linked to a sunny day, and as kids – we draw the sun as yellow. That associate clearly set for me. Others have described this fragrance as a definite green.

And Marzi, is of course pink. I say of course, a couple of people have said it’s the colour of pastry or a creamy colour – like almonds.

If you’ve tried our fragrances, what colour are they to you? I’d love to know – I really enjoy hearing about people’s experiences of our scents.

Sometimes I experience sounds as shapes, but that happens less frequently.

The main way my synaesthesia presents itself though, is by smell or taste associations with words – usually names. Unfortunately, my own name is spam. And I’m vegan.