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 have finished my first year of the integrated MSc Cosmetic Science course in LCF. I am currently a student representative at the various College meetings. I was born in Sicily, Italy but I now live in the UK. I decided to study this course as I felt it best suited my love for chemistry and my creative nature. The course offers a wide range of subjects, including sciences and laboratory-based formulation classes, as well as marketing strategies and international regulations of cosmetics. I am currently thinking of pursuing a career in perfumery or product management.
How did the project with Somerset House come about?
The University regularly emails us with exciting extra curriculum opportunities, the Somerset House project being one of them. The Somerset House event was sponsored by the Fragrance Foundation and was a part of major contemporary exhibition, which made it very interesting. At that time, I was already involved in another perfumery project so my lecturers further encouraged me to apply.
What did you create for them and what techniques did you use?
The workshop gave children the opportunity to use the sense of smell to expand their English vocabulary. At my table, the visitors were presented with different fragrances from around the world, such as lemon, rosemary, cardamom, vanilla etc. The activity also taught them how the olfactory bulb works and how powerful our nose is in comparison to other animals and about odour perception. I contributed to the preparation of this activity and I used my notes from my perfumery lectures. I also prepared and worked on a bingo table where visitors would smell different scents and try to identify them and tick off their bingo sheet. I discussed the plans for this activity with Ellie Wright, a staff member of Somerset House, so that I could conduct the game the best possible way. There was also a writing competition, where children would choose one of the smells from around the world and write a poem on it.
Both, creativity and perfumery knowledge, were needed to make these activities informative and fun for the children, as well as constant communication with the organisers to explain my ideas. The staff at Somerset House were very helpful and supportive.
What was the outcome of the project?
I believe that the exhibition and our workshop were successful, the children all seemed engaged and excited about what they learnt and the activities. At the end of the day, the visitors filled in a satisfaction surveys which showed that they enjoyed the activities.
Are you planning on taking the project further?
I am planning to take up more perfumery-based projects, so that I can 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, so I hope to be offered opportunities to work on more projects with them.
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 world of perfumery seems to combine both interests, 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, the most interesting part of the course were our first formulation classes, where we made toiletry products, such as: body lotions, lip balms, and especially the project at the end of the year when we had to improve a formulation. Another highlight was having people from the industry visit and explain to us the nature of toothpastes.
Another exciting event was meeting Florence Adepoju, a course alumna who owns her own business and make up brand. 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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