Paper Path: why we love paper’s odor (& perfumes evoking it)

Paper is one thing we have now more and more rare contact with on this relentlessly digitised world, and maybe practically as importantly, odor far much less incessantly in our on daily basis lives. May this be why perfumers are searching for to evoke the scent within the fragrances we put on?

There’s a purposeful sterility to the burgeoning ‘metaverse’ that’s abhorrent to sensorialists – these of us who experience our senses, welcoming the odor and comforting caress of books and paper (and you already know, meals, materials, the infinitesimal layering of textures that IRL [In Real Life] gives us), as we would a lover’s contact.

For e-book (and printed paper) lovers, significantly; whereas E-Reader gadgets and scrolling on telephone screens actually have enormous advantages – instantaneous entry to literature is to not be, pardon the pun, sniffed at – however they lack the tangibility of actually burying your nostril in a e-book, or feeling a bit of paper as you write on it (in pen! How very old style). Certainly, research shows that, whereas ranges of comprehension are comparable irrespective of the way you learn a textual content; individuals battle to precisely recall occasions or timelines of an extended story on a display screen, versus studying on paper.

The report concludes that it’s the ‘kinaesthetic suggestions’ of holding paper in your hand that connects us to the notion of what we’re studying; that’s, utilizing our sensory organs to higher find and retailer important info. I’ve beforehand written concerning the idea of vellichor – what makes the odor of previous books so particular – so wish to widen that thought, right here, to the extra literal odor of paper itself.


‘…over a time period, the compounds inside paper [break down to] produce the odor. Paper consists of cellulose and small quantities of lignin(a fancy polymer of fragrant alcohols). Paper that’s much more effective comprises much less lignin than cheaper supplies, like the paper utilized in newspapers.’



I’d argue the odor of paper – previous and mysterious or newly seductive – can also be an enormous a part of our emotional intelligence, our interconnectivity, scent and reminiscence mixed.

In these historical library kind fragrances (which I nonetheless completely adore) it’s typically the mixed odor of crumbling leather-based bindings, mud and polished wood tables that conjure a sense of being in a specific house. However the odor of paper itself needn’t at all times be musty.

We is perhaps in a shiny new bookshop, or have simply cracked the backbone of a sensorially satisfying weighty journal. The paper is perhaps that of an artist, awaiting the stroke of a brush, or of a author’s virgin sheet, greedily thirsting for the primary drop of ink…



Paper does have a novel odor. In these dusty previous tomes it’s the breaking down of paper compounds that releases lignin (much like vanillin, the first element of vanilla, which has been confirmed to be a remarkably calming smell). In new paper, explains perfumer Geza Schoen, who as soon as created a restricted version Paper Passion perfume, in collaboration with Wallpaper* journal; recreating the scent ‘was onerous’ he admits. ‘The odor of printed paper is dry and fatty; they aren’t notes you typically work with.’

Troublesome although it could be to copy, the odor of paper is one thing we yearn for, a consolation we crave in our hyper-digitally-connected but progressively solitary lives. Comically satirising a future by which we’ve grow to be so disconnected with paper’s scent that it repels us, writer Gary Shteyngart’s novel, Super Sad True Love Story, imagines a time ‘Books are considered a distasteful, papery-smelling anachronism by younger individuals who know solely easy methods to text-scan for information…’ as The New York Occasions overview places it.

Nicely, I’m very glad to say, we bibliosmatics will not be there but. The craving to odor paper remains to be actual, and these perfumes show it…




Diptique L’Eau Papier

Rice steam accord melded with white musk cleverly evokes the paper’s creamy grain; drifts of mimosa tracing the define of torn edges whereas deeper notes seem fleetingly, like freckled ink drops in water, punctuating the readability with sheer shadows earlier than the paper comfortingly subsumes.

£90 for 50ml eau de toilette



Rook Perfumes RSX/03 College

A restricted version mission by which individuals imagined the odor of faculty, this pleasingly avoids boiled cabbage, as an alternative exploring the heady rush of opening new books, chilly air, pencil shavings and the textural thrill of fingers tracing wood desks scarred with names, love hearts, studying.

£99 for 30ml eau de parfum



Commodity Paper (Private)

Achingly tender, particularly within the ‘Private’ (most hushed) model, this suggestively whispers of stationery, passing a letter to somebody, your fingertips barely brushing, however a gesture that claims a lot. The molecular surprise of ISO E Tremendous sighs to pores and skin’s heat, an amber path beckons.

From £22 for 10ml eau de parfum







Carner RIMA XI

Impressed by Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer’s passionate poem, Rhyme 11, the paper of this fragrance feels recent with potentialities at first. Then, the cool kiss of mint is seduced by spices and Indian jasmine petals, a discovery of crumpled, tear-stained, love letters slipped beneath a mattress.

£100 for 50ml eau de parfum




Gri Gri Tara Mantra

Taking part in with the facility of phrases, monastic incense curls beguilingly, a path of promise resulting in the temple you search. It might be a church, is perhaps a library, however allow us to say as an alternative we’re in a bookshop, gleefully thumbing piles of temptations, a woody path of patchouli and potent escapism.

£95 for 100ml eau de parfum


Written by Suzy Nightingale