You may have heard of synesthesia, the psychological phenomenon when an individual associates a specific smell to a sound or can even hear a color. Swedish fragrance purveyor Byredo’s Olfactive Stéréophonique is a device inviting a similar cross-sensory effect, engineered to diffuse scents with purposeful aim into an environment harmonious with soundscapes.
Designed by hi-fi maverick Devon Turnbull, founder of artisanal speaker and accessories brand OJAS, and Byredo’s founder and creative director Ben Gorham, the limited edition Olfactive Stéréophonique’s bright red acoustic horn speaker seems to signify a blare is eminent rather than a bouquet. But in fact the device is incapable of producing any sound at all, instead intended to work in collaboration with a separate sound system/source:
The process is simple: sit comfortably with a high-fidelity sound system and select disks that set the tone for that moment or take you on a voyage ¬ that you’ll return from transformed. It’s a multi-sensory experience, one where all of the elements should be considered and where setting and scent is critical – after all, we often sit with our eyes closed, but we can never stop smelling the room.
Turnbull and Gorham cite a shared affection for music listening as a ritualistic practice, alongside their childhood experiences of Hindu temples, meditation halls, and spaces for reflection and worship and the shaping influences for imagining an olfactory diffuser, borrowing acoustic horn loading theories from speaker design and applying them to smell diffusion in the form of their BYOJ-01 Biradial Controlled Directivity Scent Dispersion Device.
One can imagine a scent diffusion system could result in either a heavenly or hellish experience, depending upon the scents, strength of diffusion, and the context of the scents application. Noting surround sound has become a norm, if not an expectation, perhaps so too will surround scent one day become commonplace in regards to simulated sensory immersion.
The Olfactive Stéréophonique retails for $1,300, and was exclusively available at Byredo.com and in select Byredo flagship shops worldwide (the device sold out in the short time before this was published).