Experiencing Bern via a Perfumed Scent Walk

The City of Bern, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is truly a picturesque place. But it is also a city full of fascinating stories of de- and re-odorization. In other words, it is an interesting urban smellscape, to use the term coined initially by the geographer Douglas Porteous, and then thoroughly developed by Victoria Henshaw.

Actually, it was last year’s Biennale Bern and its Urban Scent Walk that even gave rise to the Scent Culture Institute. Very recently, the medieval arcades in the old city witnessed the crowded opening of the perfume studio Art of Scent by Brigitte Witschi. And just now official Bern Tourism announced that they have made scent walks part of their regular tour offering.

From a scent culture perspective this is a very promising development. Moreover, what is even more interesting about this tour is its connection to Brigitte Witschi. In fact, the tour ends with a session of perfume creation in her studio.

Perfumes have always been about sensory experience. In this case, however, this experiential aspect is creatively strengthened in two ways. Prior to shopping for a new perfume the olfactory dimension of the urban context is explored. Moreover, what used to be the somehow rational choice between pre-fabricated perfume bottles is turned into the experience of creating one’s own juice.

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