The Science of Scent, Samantha Copland explores how perfume enriches.
Each of our senses, when engaged, has the power to call forth strong memories or emotions or it can help us make new ones. So when a designer says ‘designing for the senses’, what do you think about? Do you think about the sounds, the visuals, the space or how things feel? You would be almost right. What about smell and taste—two senses of which we experience the world through daily and yet these often get left out.
Samantha Copland started Perfume Playground™ as a sensory experience for your nose. Perfume Playground™ offers workshops at which you create your personal, natural signature scent. It is a creative process allowing you the pleasure of thoroughly experiencing each note as you build your own totally personal perfume.
To Samantha, scent isn’t just scent, she believes in the power of natural perfume to be wholly life-enhancing.
Tell us about your personal journey and how you became a scent designer/perfumer.
In some ways I feel that scent design chose me. After being made redundant from a corporate gig I travelled to India with my best-friend. It was here that I stumbled across a perfume shop in Rajasthan. Inside I was drawn to these beautiful crystal glass bottles of which on a whim, I purchased the shop’s stock. Told of their unlikely arrival home by India Post, I promised to follow my dream if they arrived safely.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology and Psychology, and my first role outside of uni was for the company now known as Trilogy which you may be familiar with (Rosehip oil). I always loved beauty, but travelled to London soon after and had a stint in advertising and financial services before working at a Forbes recognised tech incubator in New Zealand for five years.
Just before starting Perfume Playground™ I went to Vipassana, 10-days silence. After taking the time to make sure there were no spiritual cobwebs I felt it was time to go out into the world, to heal. It really is the tapestry of interests, the combination of beauty, science, spirituality, travel, business, technology and events that all combined into the Perfume Playground™.
Samantha Copland of Perfume Playground
How has Perfume Playground evolved from your initial concepts and thoughts for it and what made you realise this idea could be bigger than how you thought it would be when you started.
It’s evolved so much, from custom scent for people, to group workshops, to fine fragrance design for brands, spatial scenting, candles and very soon scent crystals for the home. When I first started I only knew that I wanted to share any wisdom I’d picked up along my journey, to help people find their true north and be happy. I was motivated about serving others, being close to nature and getting to do what I loved.
I was very clear about becoming a business of international quality, to operate Cross- Tasman initially, but it was during the global pandemic that the biggest change came. I was almost forced into becoming a leader, building a team in Auckland, Wellington and Melbourne, and all remotely! It’s been a real thrill to help our all-women team grow and learn about scent, soul and science as well as growing everyone’s business acumen.
It was customer feedback that made me realise this could be bigger than what it would be when I started. As well as hiring our New Zealand Manager, Rosie. She gave me the confidence to build our team, test out our systems and processes and expand into new regions like Queenstown. She provided me the opportunity to focus on the more operational parts of the business; finance, legal and insurance!
What is Perfume Playground and from your perspective, why is scent so powerful and important?
We design natural fragrance for brands, people and places that share a passion for scents ability to inspire, connect and be wholly life-enhancing. It’s a place for people to explore themselves and get inspired and connected to nature.
I think scent is our most powerful and pleasurable sense, and yet it’s the most undervalued influencer on our state of mind, emotions and health. It’s amazing how you can use fragrance to increase productivity, to create warm, safe environments, how scent associations connect places and emotional memories, and helps determine your experience of flavour of food and so much more!
We’re here to elevate scent, celebrate it, show the world how incredible it can be for your beauty, performance and well-being.
Can you tell us how you went about designing a full sensory experience for your classes? What considerations did you take into account?
To start, we think about the concept, for instance we are soon to launch an Ayurvedic Fragrance Workshop with a Yoga Studio. We then match the best fragrance oils to the story we’d like to share, in this case balancing the 3 Doshas, notes like Ginger, Jasmine, Spikenard & Cedarwood. We think about the commerciality of the project, who we are partnering with or not, the venue or space and ultimately what the customer will think, do and feel when they arrive. We design for all the senses; sound, touch, smell, hearing and visual stimulation. With an event management background we understand the importance of touching everyone where they are and whatever sense they are naturally most connected to.
How did you transition from creating personal scents to designing something for a space? What do you consider when designing a scent for a space or creating a branded scent?
We had an amazing opportunity to take over an iconic building on the waterfront in Auckland, New Zealand for Auckland Artweek in 2019. We created a large art installation called Synesthesia, a mind-blowing tour of colour and scent. We designed three rooms each with their unique scent story alongside technical artists, fashion editors and performers . We created a world of Euphoria, Transcendence and Joy and everyone made their own unique fragrance at the end of the event to match their favourite mood.
Almost in parallel, we were approached through word-of-mouth to custom design a scent for Strong Pilates, a new rowing and pilates concept. Our scent is designed to transform the customer, in this case to feel strong, to fall in love with the process, to be surrounded with people who lift you higher, so it was an incredible project to work on, to find the essence of strength in scent and community. With notes of Cedarwood & Cognac, the scent was a salute to Serena Williams & Jay-Z.
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
We’re taking part in Melbourne Design Week at the end of the month which will be lots of fun. We’re launching our first product, an incredible scent crystal for the home!
The team is busy designing more virtual sensory experiences; we created Native & Wild Solid Perfume during the pandemic so we are planning a Flowers & Fragrance craft box, taking our Kids Club online and our Ayurvedic Perfume boxes will be ready for International Yoga Day in June.
Finally, we are thrilled to be open to work with more Scent design and Spatial design clients across Australia now that we can travel a bit more easily!