25.04.2016

PURO Q&A: Marta Siembab / Senselier

People and spaces create the essence of a city. Architecture, unusual places and objects, strange nooks, well-known paths, emotions, and memories. In PURO Q&A we ask those who inspire us about their ways of creating and experiencing cities. Artists, designers, and creators of the contemporary urban world.


Marta Siembab*, the only senselier in Poland, is an expert when it comes to fragrance and the sense of smell. Living locally but working globally, Marta knows how to shorten the distance between her, people, and the world. She does it literally – by using various means of transport to discover the far-away regions – and metaphorically, by using fragrances to get closer to people and places. Her suitcase always contains some professional equipment as well as sensory substitutes for home. When she is back to Poznan, she absorbs her homely space with all her heart and soul by means of little rituals, the rhythm of her own paths, and the smell of the closest ones.

 

 


 

I experience a city…

For me, the city is about places – sometimes restricted to only several square meters. It’s about the rays of light, the moments when the sun rises just above the old rooftops, the same people standing on the same squares, repeatability and sameness. It’s the slogans sprayed on walls, the habit to go around the well-known hole in the pavement, the omnipresent smell of chocolate at Kościelna street, the fogged-up windows of a local bar and a tiny café whose owner I always greet with the simple wave of a hand.

 

When I want to meet people…

I work with hundreds if not thousands of people every year. I meet them on trains – we crowd together in the subway. So, very often,  I feel like I’m done meeting people. But if I decide to meet with someone, I usually only one person to whom I can pay all my attention.

 

When I want to calm down…

I snuggle up to my boyfriend and smell his underarm. When I’m alone, I fill up my bathtub, exhale the air from my lungs and immerse myself in water.

 

 

I go for walks…

According to my iPhone, I walk some dozens of kilometers a day. My boyfriend and I walk most of the time – we have our own paths through parks and green spaces of the city. While on the run, I like to think and converse. It all takes its toll on my style, I wear high heels usually when I go to a restaurant, but let’s be clear, I wouldn’t make do without comfortable shoes. I use them up faster than handkerchiefs.

 

I discover…

Places where good, straightforward people work, for example Mr. Franciszek – a shoemaker from the Łazarz district. I love the way his workshop smells and always peek at his hands resembling the toilworn hands of my grandpa. I disappear quickly right after, for I don’t want to succumb to nostalgia. I also discover little stores with simple yet good food: bread, butter, kiełbasa wiejska [a type of Polish sausage]. It’s a pity they’re scattered throughout the city. Also, I am yet to discover a restaurant in Poznań that won’t make you smell like fried food…

 

I find treasures…

I love little old shops, independent drug stores, stationers. What I buy there are the relics of the past: Fiord cologne, a Chinese fountain pen, olive soap, Tiger Balm. I absorb everything, put it on the table and pretend that time doesn’t go by.

 

 

The taste of the city…

Unfortunately I can’t think of any local taste I would immediately associate with Poznań. Maybe it’s because of my roots? My family doesn’t come from here…I love food though, so I’m going to name all the delicacies I couldn’t live without: donuts from “Hanusia” at Żurawia street, Pavlova served at “Taczaka 20”, a chocolate ball served at “A Nóż Widelec”, bread from “U Girów” bakery and sauerkraut from Rynek Jeżycki [a market in the Jeżyce district]. Just the thought of it makes my mouth water…

 

Things I always have on me…

Menthol ointment for blocking unpleasant odors. Menthol deodorant stick for blocking unpleasant odors. Tiger Balm for blocking the excruciatingly unpleasant odors and a menthol lip balm. It makes me think I must smell pretty refreshing…

 

A must-have item in my suitcase…

My suitcase carries 98 liters. Most of the space is taken by materials I work with: oils, essences, absolutes, herbs, resins, a hand-operated burner for thurible coals, blotters, pipettes, vials, cards for workshops. There’s also a vegetable spray, plant mask and several types of foundation cream for cooling the face overheated by air conditioning. What else…there’s a MacBook, a first-aid kit and an eye mask to keep the light away when the overabundance of smells and fragrances causes me a headache. I also have Kusmi Earl Grey tea to feel a little bit at home no matter where I am… I could hide in my suitcase if I wanted to, it’s that big.

 

 

 

* Marta Siembab - the only professional senselier in Poland and founder of the Senselier Olfactory Atelier. As an independent expert she shares her extensive knowledge about fragrance and the sense of smell. She conducts trainings for professionals and offer specialist business consulting, as well as tailor-made workshops on building personal and corporate image. Marta cooperates with Noses (perfume creators), takes part in fragrance industry events, fashion festivals and design conferences. She actively participates in artistic projects and offer precursory ideas on how to use the smell factor in interior design. She specialises in training, consulting, event organising, company events, press conferences, lectures and workshops devoted to fragrances and the sense of smell. She also supports philanthropy and charity.

 

 

 

 

 

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