Institute for Art and Olfaction Awards 2014: Saskia Wilson-Brown Interview #2


Post by Azar


Today the Australian perfume Junkies are thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Saskia Wilson-Brown, the founder of the LA based Institute for Art and Olfaction. Winners are listed HERE<<<JUMP

This is the second in the Saskia Wilson-Brown Interview Series: Please have a look through the first: The Institute for Art and Olfaction: Saskia Wilson-Brown Interview #1

Institute for Art and Olfaction Awards 2014

Saskia Wilson-Brown Interview #2

Institute for Art and Olfaction AWARDS LOGO

Regarding the 2014 Art and Olfaction Awards: What made you decide that the world needed another awards night and why about fragrance?

Ha! A fair question. The world does most definitely not need another awards night. However: Independent and artisan perfumers need some support, and so we decided it would be a good idea to help provide it, in the way we were most capable of doing so. We are going to try to be more about curation than competition.

Both panels of judges are made up of some of the best-known noses in the world! How were you able to put these panels together and how long did it take?

To be honest, it was merely a question of asking! All of the judges were happy to participate, and extremely supportive. It took a few months to put the panel together, and I am extremely grateful to them for the time and energy they put into the process. Very very caring and honest people, all of them, and not an inflated ego in sight. The big question is: Would they consider doing it again. Ha.

The IAO website goes into detail about the Awards selection process and judging criteria. Did the finalists receive written evaluations/adjudications of their work?

No, unfortunately, there is only so much time in the day, we simply couldn’t offer that sort of feedback. We already asked a lot of the judges: The preliminary judges all smelled every submission. That’s just under a hundred perfumes, and I wasn’t prepared to ask them to write evaluations for every perfume, as well.

We built the awards on the film festival model, and we basically stuck to that formula, but adding the anonymity factor to ensure fairness as ours is such a small little world, at the end of the day. Generally speaking, it’s not my first time running a big initiative like this, and my rule of thumb is this: Know your limits, stick to the plan, don’t ask for more than people have time to deliver.

However, as the awards expand, we will try to build in more feedback mechanisms. One of the things I feel most guilty about in our first year is that we just didn’t have the time to email all the submitters who didn’t make it to the the finalist round. I have submitted to things before, and I know what it feels like to get a nice email, versus just… silence. In fact, I just recently got a very kind rejection letter from a big institution, and it made the experience much less disappointing. So that’s something we need to fix for next year.


Was there one moment at the Awards Ceremony (or the after party) that you found especially funny, surprising or touching?

Well, the whole thing was a blur, for me, to be honest. It was a lot of work and there were a lot of moving parts. I did really enjoy having my friend Tom Green on the drums – it added a little bit of irreverence, and the audience all called out ‘drum roll Tom’ when the presenter was about to announce a winner, which was pretty fun and goofy. All our presenters were incredibly amazing, as well. Ashley Eden Kessler, Ilene Hoffman, Hank Jenkins, Sarah Horowitz-Thran, Steven Gontarski, James McHugh, Koan Jeff Baysa and of course Adam Eastwood and Franco Wright from Lucky Scent. Another thing I loved was the smell-and-repeat. It was a silly idea I had, playing off the Hollywood premiere trope of having a step-and-repeat logo wall where famous people step, pose and repeat for photographers. It ended up being quite fun. We sprayed it with the finalist perfumes, so as people entered the Goethe Institut they could catch a whiff of what this was all about.

The first Art and Olfaction Awards will be a hard act to follow. What have you learned from the First Annual that you can use in 2015?

Here is what I am taking from the first year: Avoid the big egos, support the people who support you, allow more time for submissions to arrive, allow more time for the judges to judge, and thank the people who make this happen over and over again.

Finally – I really enjoyed the seven questions you posed to the finalists and their revealing answers! To paraphrase one of your own questions: What excites you about your life right now?

I find the major mistakes I seem to be making on a daily basis to be particularly exciting. When I was younger and more malleable, I used to be quite serious about snowboarding. The big lesson in snowboarding is that if you’re not constantly falling down, you’re not learning. It’s trite, but it’s true.

Saskia Art & OlfactionPhoto of Saskia donated by Institute for Art & Olfaction

Thank you so much, Saskia, for taking the time from your very busy schedule to share your thoughts with the APJ. We are looking forward to another great year with the IAO, filled with exciting projects and educational opportunities.

Azar xx

Join the mailing list:
For in-person visits and snail mail:
The Institute for Art and Olfaction
3023 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA. 90020
Phone: (213) 616-1744
Saskia invites interested persons to drop by and also attend an open blending session, class or event.

Book sessions on Eventbrite:


14 thoughts on “Institute for Art and Olfaction Awards 2014: Saskia Wilson-Brown Interview #2

  1. Azar,
    You are seriously amazing. Thank you for this wonderful, insightful and totally engrossing interview.
    I feel like I’ve lived the experience.
    Portia xxx


    • Thank you so much, Portia. Saskia was a dream to interview. I learned so much and have a better appreciation for what it takes to put together an event like this.
      What she had to say about recruiting the stellar panel of judges has motivated me to simply ask for support when I need it! Surprising how that works.
      Azar xx


  2. HI Azar,

    Thank you for bringing Saskia and the IAO Awards to APJ’s world wide readership. What a pleasure to read.

    It’s an inspiration to hear that thinking big does indeed lead to major accomplishments when one asks! Wisdom in action.

    I was honored to play a small part in this great new enterprise and get to know the truly creative, advanced, kind and fun people making it happen.

    Viva the IAO!


    • Once again, thank you Sister Mary. How do you like that photo of Saskia on the perfume worktable ? So fun! What a smile!
      Azar xx


  3. ok, a bit late to the table…

    i know more about the IOA than NOT to be completely biased in it’s tactile brilliance.

    laboratory of the muse.

    i’m so honored to be a friend of one of the ‘faculty’, so i know the level of impressive talent, naturally, but also the PASSION of the people there. these are artist educators for lack of a more encompassing term.

    basking in my biases, i’m so thrilled to know both natural and synthetic approaches are employed in excursions into many facets of perfume.

    saskia, clearly you rock. that’s not even biased. i wiki’ed it.

    azar- thank you for another excellent interview! ❤


    • oh for the love of matilda. i did NOT just say

      see? some passion drives people to create spaces where art can be absorbed and taught and applauded accessible… and then others typos.

      IAO. truly, my gaffe for typing with ma griffe.


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