The work of a nose, creator of perfumes, between art and technology

When we talk about fragrances and perfumes, the nose is an inevitable figure in this whole process, we had the opportunity to ask some questions to our nose, Luca Maffei who told us a little bit about himself and how is a day of his work.

Hello Luca, please, tell us something about yourself, where does your love of perfumery come from and why did you decide to become a nose?

I was lucky enough to be born into a family that was part of the perfume-making world and so I’ve been breathing in scents since I was a child. This has taught me to always pay a lot of attention to all the smells I had around me, giving me the opportunity to build my own olfactory memory, my personal collection of memories/scents I draw from every day to create new fragrances.

It was completely normal for me to see my father coming home from work with loads of perfumes and to hear him speak about noses, accords and bottles; finding out what those bottles contained each time had become a game.

I think I was immediately fascinated by the world of perfumes and I hoped I would be part of it too but I still didn’t know how.

Then one day I was lucky enough to visit a laboratory and to have a chat with some noses and there I realised that recognising the different raw materials and describing them was quite easy for me, as well as choosing an accord and associating it with an image or a memory. Unknowingly I started playing with scents by putting some small accords together.

That’s how what started as a passion and an amusement became a near obsession and I decided what I really wanted to do was create perfumes.

Can you describe what a nose does and what a typical day at work is like?

I try to get to the office quite early in the morning so my nose feels fresh and rested. People say that the nose in the morning is more sensitive to smell, and I start smelling all the trial mixes made the day before.

I generally work on 3 or 4 projects at the same time so I try to spread them over the day. I generally wait 24 hours to smell a trial mix I’ve made, giving it the time to structure itself and the ingredients the time to blend;; I don’t smell the formulas I’ve written down in the morning until the morning after.

A fundamental quality for someone in this profession, apart from technique and creativity, is a large dose of curiosity, cerco quindi di documentarmi sempre molto sia sul progetto che devo realizzare, analizzando bene il DNA di chi mi sta commissionando un profumo, sia sulle new trends concerning raw materials..

How many raw materials does a nose usually work with? Do you have any favourites?

I believe the raw materials used in perfumery are over six-thousand, a nose is able to recognise the smell of nearly one-thousand, but the palette you work with is usually around two or three-hundred.

I choose the ones I like most, the ones which move me and allow me to put the emotion into the perfume.

What’s your point of view, as an expert, on the AA brand?

It’s a brand with a long history which has revolutionised the perfume industry by creating some true masterpieces. I like working for AA and I hope one day I’ll create a scent that will remain in the brand’s legacy.

Beautiful Luca's story, isn't it?

Luca also told us the story of natural perfumes and how molecular perfumes are created, haven't you read it yet?

Read his article about the history of natural and molecular perfumes