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Byredo Olfactive Stéréophonique Sets Scents to Sound

02.07.22 | By
Byredo Olfactive Stéréophonique Sets Scents to Sound
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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.

Overhead view of Olfactive Stéréophonique, with a bright red diffuser cone, scent cartridge in the middle, and fan at the back.

The “speaker” is meant “to evoke the meditative effects of ritualistic practice and enhance a listening space,” with the contents of scent capsules diffused via fan system.

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.

Three-quarter angle view of the Olfactive Stéréophonique facing toward the left, a fragrance diffuser with a bright red speaker cone sitting on top of a square metal base.

The scent “playlist” includes ten capsules with top notes of Incense, Clove Bud, Bay, with hints of Carnation, Labdanum​, Ylang evident under a base of Papyrus, Haiti vetiver, and Guaiac wood.

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.

Front facing view straight on of the Olfactive Stéréophonique, showing the red speaker cone and the square metal base with small dial on the right side.

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.

Olfactive Stéréophonique shown with box.

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).

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.