Tuesday, August 30, 2011

10 minutes with Junji Hamano, Perfumer


Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of beautiful fragrance, and in my world, scent is definitely one of the most important senses.
I love great fragrance on the skin and in the home, and was intrigued when I was told about Procter & Gamble engaging the talents of Creative Perfumer Junji Hamano (pictured) to help create their Ambi Pur Air Effects range of home fragrances.
These scents are designed by Junji and the same team behind some of the world’s most successful perfume houses - including Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Hugo Boss – and are designed to go beyond just ridding your home of the proverbial bad smells. I spent some time having a chat with him about his work, and how he goes about creating beautiful fragrances that work for the bedroom as well as the boardroom.

I’ve read that your mother was a collector of fragrances, was one of those your earliest fragrance memory?
Yes, I still remember my mother wearing fragrances in special occasions like before she went to Kabuki (Japanese traditional drama performance). With Kimono, she looked very elegant and it looked like her excitement radiated through her fragrance.

You first trained as a Chemical Engineer; did you have an interest in fragrance even then?
A dream to be a perfumer has been always with me. In Japan, I was not able to find a university which had a fragrance science faculty so after obtaining my chemical engineering degree I went to France; capital of fragrance. There I learnt fragrance science in Le Havre University where I obtained Master’s Degree.

What made you decide to re-train as a perfumer?
After mastering the scientific part of fragrance, I started to be interested in the art and magic of fragrance, especially the experiences that fragrance can deliver to people and how it influences human emotions. I was trained in one of the house in Grasse and then joined the P&G Perfume group.

Would you call yourself a “nose” as such?
Yes… The nose stands the highest on your face and therefore it is the very first sensor out of our five senses that detects signals the quickest. I want to be like a nose in the company who is always on the lookout for anything happening around the region and trends in the world so as to incorporate new things into fragrance creations.

How different is designing a perfume for wear from designing a home fragrance?
There are similarities and differences. We are using a similar creation method of fine fragrance for wear when designing Ambi Pur fragrances whereby we construct the fragrance by top, middle and bottom notes. By doing this, fragrance becomes complex and changes its face gradually over the time as if it is living. What is unique about the creation of a home fragrance is that you have to make sure that the fragrance conveys a level of comfort and makes the consumer feel peaceful as it is used in their home.

Do you follow fragrance trends, or develop new scents from scratch?
While monitoring fragrance trends globally, we always develop new scents from scratch as fragrance needs to comply with technical and regulatory requirements for home care products.

A lot of home fragrances are very floral, why do you think that is?
As I’ve said before, home fragrance is expected to deliver comfortable and pleasant feeling. Floral notes always give us these feelings because of the association with nature or unforgettable memory where somebody gave you a bouquet of flowers.

What is the secret to creating a fragrance that doesn’t overpower its environment?
If a fragrance is singular, meaning that it is comprised of very simple notes -for example, only lemon - it is easy for the fragrance overpowers the environment and you get tired of it. Ambi Pur fragrances are complex and alive so that depending on your mood, they show different aspects and you never get tired of them. Nitrogen propellant - which gently disperses fragrance into the air - also helps to change the scent of the environment more naturally.

Lastly, what is your favourite scent – synthetic or natural?
Scents in nature are always my source of inspiration and something people feel comfortable with. Among the scents in nature, I love gardenia for its elegance and sophistication yet it also has a touch of spiciness behind.

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