First year MSc Cosmetic Science student Natasha Malhi recently ran the Marty the Might Nose workshop, which was created by The Fragrance Foundation for the Somerset House.
The workshop was in association with the museum’s current exhibition, Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent, which is a multi-sensory installation featuring ten perfumes and their pioneering creators who radically changed the face of the industry during the last two decades. We caught up with Natasha to find out more about the workshop, what she created, and how she got into cosmetic chemistry.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Natasha Malhi and I just finished my first year of MSc Cosmetic Science. I’m also the course representative. I was born in Sicily, Italy but I now live in the UK. I decided to study this course as I felt it complimented my love for chemistry and my creative nature. The course has such a comprehensive look at the cosmetic science field, studying not only laboratory theories and techniques but teaching us marketing strategies and regulations on cosmetics. Allowing us to fully understand the cosmetics science field. I am currently thinking of pursuing a future in perfumery or product management.
How did the project with Somerset House come about?
The university regularly emails us exciting opportunities for our fields, the Somerset House project being one of them. Having already been part of another perfumery orientated project with the university, and due to the exhibition subject and the workshop being created by the Fragrance Foundation, my lecturers encouraged me to apply.
What did you create for them and what techniques did you use?
The workshop acted as an opportunity for children using the sense of smell to expand their English vocabulary. I was given a template to what the Marty the Mighty Nose workshop was to include. The workshop was given the theme of smells from around the world. The room was to include 3 tables. One table would have a writing competition where children would use one of the smells from around the world and base a poem on it – this table I had little input on.
Although the other two, I also had a lot of influence over. The first table was an introduction table, where visitors were introduced to different fragrances from around the world – such as lemon, rosemary, cardamom, vanilla etc. This table also gave an opportunity for them to learn about the olfactory bulb different aspects of perfumery, such as anosmia, how powerful our nose is compared to other animals and odour perception, a lot of this information I used from my perfumery notes from the second term studied during the perfumery module. The second table I was asked to make an into a bingo table. Where visitors would smell unidentified fragrances, and tried to identify them to tick off their bingo sheet. Here, I spoke to Ellie Wright, a staff member of Somerset House to discuss and establish the best way of conducting the game.
A lot of creative ideas were required to make this exhibition cohesive and professional as well as constant communication to keep the organisers up to date with my ideas. With the support of the staff at Somerset House, I could lead this workshop.
What was the outcome of the project?
I believe that the exhibition was successful, the children all seemed engaged and excited about the new information being given to them and the activities. Surveys were filled and all reflected the positive experience.
Are you planning on taking the project further?
I am planning on taking up more perfumery based projects, to expand my experience in the perfumery field to really assess if this is something I would like to pursue in the future. I have also established working relationships with those who helped organise the exhibition, to give the opportunity to work on more projects.
Why do you love what you do?
Growing up, I was torn between my passion for chemistry and my inclination towards the arts, working in the perfumery field complements both aspects. Allowing me to bring out my creative personality from a scientific stand point.
What were the highlights of your first year on the course?
Aside from the sheer fact of being in the centre of London, some of the highlights include my formulation classes, where we make common toiletry products, such as body lotions, lip balms etc. especially in the last term where we had to improve a formulation. Another highlight was having people from the industry visit and explain to us the nature of toothpaste. Although one of the biggest highlights, was meeting Florence Adepoju, in the very first lecture, it really gave me a sense of direction, and reassurance, that this is possible, I can be successful, and I’m going to work my hardest to get there.
What inspires your work?
I have had a very fortunate upbringing, having lived in numerous countries such as Singapore, India etc. I use this cultural exposure as my inspiration for my work.
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