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The Museum of Scent : Exploring the Curious and Wondrous World of Fragrance - Mandy Aftel

The Museum of Scent

Exploring the Curious and Wondrous World of Fragrance

By: Mandy Aftel

Hardcover | 1 November 2023

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Breathe in the natural and cultural history of scent with this richly illustrated book inspired by the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

Mandy Aftel is one of the world's leading bespoke perfumers, with a clientele ranging from the singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen to Sir Jony Ive, the former chief design officer of Apple. Eschewing the synthetic molecules that dominate commercial perfumes, Aftel creates her complex and subtle fragrances using only natural essences. For her, each of these essences is a gateway to a lost world of scent, stretching back to the beginnings of human civilization and intertwined with the history of medicine, cuisine, adornment, sexuality, and spirituality. In 2017, Aftel opened a one-room museum-the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents-in her backyard in Berkeley, California, to help a modern audience rediscover the enchantment of this lost world. Her museum has attracted thousands of enthusiastic visitors and has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, Goop, O: The Oprah Magazine, and numerous other media outlets.

Now Aftel has created this beautiful book, illustrated with treasures from her museum's collection, so that readers at home can immerse themselves in the world of scent. She guides us through the different families of botanical fragrances (including flowers, woods, leaves and grasses, and resins), depicting each plant with a hand-colored antique woodcut and revealing its olfactory notes and lore. Special chapters are devoted to the most rare and precious fragrances-such as ambergris, formed of a rare secretion of the sperm whale-and to antique essential oil bottles, handwritten recipe books, and other evocative artifacts. The Museum of Scent, which includes a bookmark subtly scented with a natural essence, invites us on a sensuous, imaginative journey.

About the Author

Mandy Aftel, an internationally known artisan perfumer and authority on natural fragrance, is the owner of Aftelier Perfumes and the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents in Berkeley, California. Her other books include Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume, which helped sparked the natural perfume renaissance and has been translated into eight languages. Aftel's work has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and numerous other major outlets.
Industry Reviews
"This work . . . is a true original, a rarest of rare legacy volume, created by a beautiful elder who is a polymath: meaning, a highly unique person of multiple deep ways of knowing. . . . All of Mandy Aftel's dons and talents are now resting in your hands in this magical tome that will bless you time and again." - From the foreword by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes Reyes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves
"Opening up this book is like opening up a whole new room in your imagination you didn't quite realize existed-even if you never thought you were interested in perfume. It's gorgeous to look at and gorgeous to read, bristling with details and wild histories. It's a book to pick up again and again: whether you land on a page about onycha shells, shiso, or honeysuckle, you're swept into a dreamy world-a cabinet of curiosities for the senses that's both exquisite and endlessly surprising." - Jean Godfrey-June, Executive Beauty Editor, GOOP
"The Museum of Scent is a beautiful catalogue of Mandy's olfactory expertise and artistry. This book is a wonderful guide through the rich and fascinating world of perfumery, and a joyful invitation to sniff your way through life!" - Alice Waters, chef and owner of Chez Panisse
"From the queen of artisan perfumers, a delightful introduction to the universe of scent and scented materials. Aromatics leap off the page in all their singularity, accompanied by astounding images and fascinating context. In book form as much as in real life, Aftel's carefully curated collection presents a whole that is revelatory in every one of its component parts." - Saskia Wilson-Brown, Director & Founder, The Institute for Art and Olfaction
"Now Aftel has created this beautiful book, illustrated with treasures from her museum's collection, so that readers at home can immerse themselves in the world of scent." - 7 x 7
"Aftel, ... explores the natural and cultural history of scent in her newest book, The Museum of Scent." - Veranda
"A beautiful book about beautiful things, with a fascinating narrative told by an author who loves her subject." - Kirkus Reviews
"It is so rich in story, information, and images, you don't just read it, you fall into it and don't want it to end!" - Ivy Ross, co-author of New York Times bestseller Your Brain on Art and VP of Hardware Design at Google
"Looking over Aftel's life work, one is inclined to believe anything she has to say about smells. The book is a codex in the truest sense, but it is also a kind of cabinet of curiosities that encompasses elements of Aftel's research, related ephemera, the history of natural botanicals, animal-based musks, artisanal production, scent combinations, and much more." - Hyperallergic
"...just leafing through Aftel's stunning compilation of olfactory magic is like being gifted a book of secrets." - Smithsonian
""You don't just smell an aroma; you fall into it," writes artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel. And entering her exquisite small museum, the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents, tucked into a backyard in Berkeley, is to fall into an ancient, mysterious world." - KQED
"Take a tour of the museum with Mandy Aftel." - Bartell's Backroads (ABC10) on YouTube

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