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Turning a hospital art collection into perfumes to positively disrupt a patient’s routine.

Client: Imperial Health Charity

Duration: 3 months, 2018

Topic: Scent and Memory

The Brief

Find a low-cost way to incorporate the hospital’s art collection into long-term patients’ daily hospital experience in order to improve wellbeing.

The Outcome

Four perfumes inspired by four paintings from around the hospital. They were portable so could be taken to patients in their wards, rather than them having to travel to the paintings themselves. The link between smell and memory was especially fitting for Charing cross hospital, which has the biggest dementia and stroke rehabilitation unit in London. 

  • Jo Bruton “Landing Girls” wallpaper – Vintage floral scent inspired by popular perfumes of 1950s

  • John Piper Stained Glass window – Fresh Aquatic notes with a hint of incense, evoking smells of a chapel

  • Simpson and Son’s Tiles for original Charing Cross Hospital – Apple and fruity notes, fresh cut glass, wood

  • David Mach “Visit London” – Tobacco, Leather, Rubber, Vanilla

Research and Methodology

For the first week, we visited the hospital, observed patients, interviewed stakeholders and did trails of the current artwork on display. This also involved a visit to the paintings archive within the hospital, which contained hundreds of stored paintings! A lot of thought had gone into the placement of the paintings within the hospital. For instance, painted tiles from the original hospital site were placed on a corridor which linked the new wards to the chapel, symbolising the transitions to new places. We also noticed that for a lot of patients, the hospital artwork was the least of their concerns as they waited for test results and appointments. We realised we needed to find a way for the work to be disruptive and engaging.

Key Insights

There is a strong link between scent and memory which can unlock reminders of forgotten experiences. When recovering in the sterile environments of neuro-rehab wards, it is the unusual and dirty smells we miss the most as they remind us as our everyday lives before illness.

The Team

  • Perfumery, Concept and Branding – Sophia Luu

  • Event Facilitation – Mathilda Della Torre

  • Generously supported by the Imperial Health Charity (Lucy, Kate and Delphine)


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