Friday, April 23, 2021

Fragrance Book of the Year 2021

The Essence: Discovering the World of Scent, Perfume & Fragrance

It's back -- the de facto fragrance compendium for the modern world has risen from beneath the pandemic infopocalypse to be nominated as Fragrance Book of the Year for 2021. 

Released in Europe in late 2019, then in the United States in early 2020, this book was immediately overshadowed by the pandemic, and has now come back to life. 

Nominated by the Perfumed Plume, it stands against the legendary author of culinary bible On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee, who just released his second major book in over 30 years. His new book is called Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World of Smells. This is stiff competition for a book that could have been one of the earliest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Perfumed Plume has been awarding fragrance journalism and fragrance books since 2016. They shine a spotlight on writing that both informs and entertains us, offering an engaging view into the oftentimes clandestine, esoteric world of fragrance and olfactory experience. 

They couldn't have picked a better book for that. Described by Fragrantica editor John Biebel as a "highly aesthetic experience," The Essence is a 288-page, full color, hardcover, stitch bound book full of essays, research, inforgraphics, interviews, histories and photographs. The book is a world unto itself. Without reading a single word, this is one of the most beautiful books you'll ever hold. (Bias alert: I did contribute two essays to this book.)

The publisher, Die Gestalten Verlag, is known for their 600 books on art, architecture, design, photography and typography, and is the only publisher where all the editors are designers. And it shows. You put this book on your coffeetable and you might never leave your apartment again. (Sarcasm alert: some of us are still on lockdown due to the pandemic and can't leave our apartments anyway.) 

It's a visually compelling time capsule of fragrance, art, and history rolled into one thick volume. ... Also featured are many revealing essays about culture and smell, such as "The Smell of Fear", "Gender and Identity", and "The Future of Scent". The editorial finesse in a project like "Essence" comes about through the keen balance of compelling graphics, thorough research, and a "something for everyone" approach to content.
The Essence: Discovering the World of Scent, Perfume & Fragrance, edited by Robert Klanten, founder and CEO of gestalten as well as Carla Seipp, fragrance writer, is the first publication by gestalten recognizing the world of scent and the figures who shape the field.

Written in the pre-covid era, February 2020

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