@aroma is a Japanese fragrance design company that uses the elements of essential oils to develop aroma blends to enable the enjoyment of fine natural scents on a daily basis.
To celebrate the launch of @aroma at Sterre Rose Beauty, we had a conversation with 'Scent Architect', Maurice Joosten from the @aroma European design studio in Berlin. As a true expert in his field, he explains what makes our sense of smell unique, how essential oils can alter our emotions and wellbeing, and advises on the use of aromatherapy at home.
"Of all the senses, the sense of smell is the most successful at triggering emotions and memories. Aroma is emotion in ethereal form."
Sterre Rose Beauty: You have been working as 'Scent Architect' at @aroma for over 14 years! Please tell us more about the brand and your expertise.
Maurice Joosten: @aroma are specialists in scent design for interior environments and brand communication projects. The company was founded in 1998 in Tokyo and now has global offices in Shanghai, Los Angeles and Berlin with currently 17 concept stores in Japan. Curating aromatic environments has a longstanding tradition in Japan, where scenting is used to set the mood of an environment.
In 2006 I joined the @aroma’s scent design team in Tokyo. As a scent architect I design fragrances for interior environments, using essential oils. With my background as visual artist, I create synergy between the visual and olfactory language in the design process. In 2013 I moved to Berlin to set up our European Design Studio.
SRB: How are the @aroma essential oils obtained?
MJ: We source only the finest 100% natural essential oils first-hand. We travel to visit oil producers and suppliers worldwide regularly to assure we use only the very best ingredients. Unlike most fragrance companies, @aroma never uses synthetic scents. We strongly believe nature offers the best experience.
Natural oils give a three-dimensional experience of scent mimicking what the brain and body experience in real nature. Natural scents integrate the natural environment into homes creating a high-quality aroma experience.
"Natural oils give a three-dimensional experience of scent mimicking what the brain and body experience in real nature."
SRB: What makes the sense of scent so special?
MJ: The sense of smell is the fastest way to the heart. Of all the senses (sight, taste, touche, sound, smell), olfaction is the most successful at triggering emotions and memories. Olfaction is the only sense directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, areas of our brain that process emotion and memory. It means it is not filtered by the neocortex, or the mind. Said more simply: Smelling is feeling on that level.
"Scents are not filtered by the neocortex, or the mind. Said more simply: smelling is feeling on that level."
SRB: How can Aromatherapy support overall wellbeing?
MJ: Throughout history aromatic oils have been used for their power to influence the emotions and states of mind. Certain elements in essential oils directly influence the cells in our body and mind, activating a physiological response, as measured by blood pressure, heart rate, and other factors. And this is what Aromatherapy is based on as well.
Many components in woody oils have calming and sedative properties. Other components that can be found in citrus oils activate you and enhance mental alertness.
"Essential oils have a unique property that directly works on the physical body and on the mind."
SRB: @aroma recently launched a ‘Japanese Botanical Air’ Collection.
What was the vision and creative inspiration for this collection?
MJ: With this series of scents we aim to highlight oils from historically cherished Japanese plants, each one embodying an aesthetic sense of unique Japanese flora and nature. This collection is mainly made from plants harvested in Japan.
Yoshino Hinoki essential oil is one of our most popular scents and is deeply rooted in Japanese culture; Yuzu is made from a characteristic Japanese citrus popular in Japanese cuisine and in onsen (Japanese hot springs); and Satsuma Hosho is composed of soft and gentle wooden notes from a camphor three that grows in the southern part of Kyushu, an island in the south of Japan.
SRB: What do you advise to customers who are new to Aromatherapy?
MJ: Keep it simple by focusing on the pure sensorial experience of the oils. Throughout the day (even amidst a lot of work), there are always moments that allow for a short break, a moment of silence and rest. Make consciously room for it in a small daily ritual; for example when waking up, when going to bed, in the bathroom, or during work intervals. Allow yourself a moment to enjoy the pure beauty of new and unfamiliar scents sourced from the other side of the world. Let yourself be taken away by floating impressions, the subtle mood and feeling it evokes.
"Allow yourself a moment to enjoy the pure beauty of new and unfamiliar scents sourced from the other side of the world. Let yourself be taken away by floating impressions, the subtle mood and feeling it evokes."
The small aroma diffuser stone ‘TOKONAME’ is a very easy and friendly way to capture the unmitigated effects of essential oils, as there is no heat involved to tamper with an oil’s properties. To scent your personal space, you can just place it near your bed or on your desk, and add a few drops of @aroma essential oil blend.
SRB: Many people today struggle with feelings of anxiety during this global pandemic. How can Aromatherapy help to balance emotions?
MJ: Invigorating citrus based scents like JB04 Yuzu incorporate the sun, pure and simple. They embody freshness and joy, and have an almost universal appeal, that naturally tend to uplift your mood, in a similar way that a bright ray of warm sunlight can suddenly illuminate a moment in your life.
But also calming and grounding scents like JB02 Yoshino Hinoki or JB07 Satsuma Hosho may help alleviate anxiety. They can provide stability and a sense of centring and groundedness in situations of great uncertainty. Especially when used over a longer period in small daily rituals, it will also trigger positive memories.
Aroma is emotion in ethereal form. I continue to be fascinated by the world of scent––transient and elusive, yet rich in depth.