Institute for Art and Olfaction

The Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO) is a non-profit organization devoted to access, education and experimentation with scent.

The IAO was founded in September of 2012 by Saskia Wilson-Brown, with the assistance of a crackerjack team of advisors and creative director Micah Hahn. In December of 2012 the IAO was joined by Kóan Jeff Baysa, who came on to serve as the organization’s Chief Strategy Officer. He was later followed by Ashley Eden Kessler, who joined the organization in September 2013 as the IAO’s first perfumer-in-residence.

The IAO opened its first public location in downtown Los Angeles on February 21 2013, and in January 2014 launched its first large-scale public arts project with ‘A Trip to Japan in Sixteen Minutes, Revisited’ at the Hammer Museum. However, the organization was active in the year leading up to the event, launching its educational programs, open sessions, and a number of curated arts programs, talks, and partnerships.

In April 2014, the IAO held the first annual Art and Olfaction Awards, a yearly awards mechanism designed to help celebrate excellence in independent and artisan perfumery. We have since held this important international annual event in Los Angeles, Berlin and London.

The IAO moved to Koreatown in March 2014, and in July 2014 received 501 (c) 3 non-profit status. The organization moved to its current home in Chinatown in March, 2015.

Organizational Purpose

The Institute for Art and Olfaction is devoted to creative experimentation through cross-modal arts and technology projects with a focus on scent. Our goal is to create new points of entry for people interested in the field of olfaction, while accommodating creative ideas in all mediums.

Through our programming, we hope to provide the following:

Convergence + Cultural Programming:

We produce and support multi-disciplinary programs that highlight creative applications of scent, exploring scent-making and perfumery within the context of the broader contemporary arts landscape.

Accessible Education:

We provide learning opportunities for people interested in gaining comprehensive knowledge in all aspects of perfumery– from blending to chemistry, history to theory.

A Place to Experiment:

We provide a space in which perfumers at all levels can experiment with new ideas with no pressure to create mass-market products.

A West Coast Presence:

With California’s culture of curiosity and experimentation, new practices in perfumery are thriving on the Pacific Coast.

Justin Merino