The Perfume: Play The Future Of The Navy District Of Amsterdam

About a month ago I visited cultural institute Mediamatic in Amsterdam to play an interactive perfume game. The game was organized by Mediamatic in collaboration with The Institute Art and Olfaction and Play The City.

Five fragrances had been created to represent different future options for an area used by the navy (Marine Terrein) in Amsterdam since 1655. A large part of this area was intended to be developed for other purposes than its original naval buildings.

The idea of the interactive perfume game was to smell 5 different fragrances through a vase (as on the photograph), choose a favorite, get a sticker with your choice and then look for 3 to 5 other visitors with the same sticker, to continue at the table of your chosen fragrance and get a decanted sample. Each perfume represented a different future for this naval area. A great and creative way to think about the future of your city. Every detail was beautifully executed from spray samples, vase to stickers as you can well see.

The 5 different future scenarios for the Naval Area were:

Scenario 1. Navy: Let the Navy stay in this area

Fragrance : White Military Marina

created by perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri

The first scenario was: Let the navy stay at this area. The perfume had elements of machines, green, canals, hygiene and humus to represent mechanical, natural and human parts of this area.

Perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri well known for his perfume house Nasomatto, lives in the centre of Amsterdam near the canals so he was a good choice to develop this fragrance. His creation scented of canals, manly sweat and iron. I used to live near a canal in Amsterdam in a student house and still remember the fresh and slightly salty smell of water, very well captured in this fragrance.

Scenario 2. Party Zone: Let’s have a party in this new hotspot

Fragrance : Love & Tonic

Created by perfumer Ricardo Moya

The second scenario was: Create a place for people to party outside. This perfume was my personal choice and created with gin and tonic in mind. It had elements of gin + tonic, love, dance, sunshine and flowers and scented slightly as a perfume people could wear to such a party. A light, happy and young scent.

Scenario 3. Luxury Apartments: create the home of your Dreams

Fragrance: Filtered Beans

Created by artist Niklaus Mettler

The idea was that coffee in a neighbourhood says a lot about the people who live in this area. The fragrance was created by tincturing 3 different kinds of coffee representing different groups living in Amsterdam. The classic Dutch coffee Douwe Egberts Rood Merk, Coffee from Ethiopia and Turkish coffee were mixed and left for 10 days in liquid (alcohol and dpg).  The idea was nicer than its scent. Not very surprisingly it smelled of coffee mixed with water.

Scenario 4. Create a place for social enterprises with refugees

Fragrance: Dew of Afghanistan

Created by Maki Ueda

Japanese Artist Maki Ueda was inspired by an Afghan woman she meet at a civic integration course. Maki Ueda used ingredients (I presume the rose) from Afghanistan bought from women trying to make a living in this country. For this fragrance she used rose, orange blossom and labdanum. I liked the scent of this uncomplicated light Rose and Orange Blossom fragrance as well. It could be worn as a skin scent.

Scenario 5. Create a place for sport, recreation and play

Fragrance: Splash! 

Created by Spyros Drosopoulos (Baruti perfumes and colognes)

Splash! was created as a joyful fragrance starting with water, grass and fresh air. As soon as the picnic starts a scent of prosecco wine mixes with sun tan and sweat. This scent smelled of grass, wet soil, joyfully fruity and slightly sweaty. Spyros Drosopoulos lives in Amsterdam as well and I can imagine he is familiar with the scent of having a pick nick in a local park.

The formula of three fragrances were published online as open source Filtered Beans, Dew of Afghanistan and Splash!.  I was given a sample of all fragrances to further try at home and be able to write about it.

The Dutch ministry of Defense quite unexpected decided  in the beginning of July 2018 to keep this area for their own purposes so option 1 the Navy staying was chosen. It’s rather unclear what is going to happen in the future with this area.

I like this playful way of making a decision for an area of Amsterdam although my choice was more inspired by the fragrance itself than the given options. Option 2 was my favorite scent representing Create a Party Zone but I would have chosen option 5 a place for recreation and play to benefit all inhabitants or option 3 apartments for people to live in, but not necessarily luxury ones. I thought the fragrances made by  Spyros Drosopoulos and Alessandro Gualtieri were quite interesting when I scented them more at ease at home on a blotter.

The way this project was executed was amazing, the vases to smell the perfumes at the beginning, the sprays which were given and the stickers were all very well prepared.

All fragrances can now be scented at Mediamatic as a permanent exhibition in Amsterdam. You can find more information here.

Disclosure: I was not given any compensation for writing this article. All photographs were made by Esperessence and my fiance.