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Sofie Boons worked on projects involving scents, like a perfume bottle in a shape of a ‘stamp’ which would leave an invisible secret sentence, seen only for a brief moment before it gets absorbed by the skin. She also made a recipe book for solid perfumes: inspired by a certain word, a collection of things like herbs, flowers, seeds, wine corks, newspaper shreds is put together to create a smell. For her graduation show in 2013 she created series of murky resin beads with oddly bright blue and red shadows. What makes these beads so special? Current Obsession

Sofie Boons

Photo by Antoine Foulot

While researching the subject of smell, Sofie stumbled upon and gradually became fascinated with the statement that gold carries no smell. Noble metals in general have no smell, and the ‘metallic smell’ we happen to associate with coins is actually a body odor produced by metals reacting with skin oils. But what if one could influence small particles within the metal to manipulate or add smell? Following this idea Sofie set out investigating deep into the material, Nanoscale deep. During a ‘speed dating’ event aimed to connect scientists and artists, organised by the Imperial College Committee Sofie met Jodie Melbourne, a PhD student at Imperial College London: – On the night we both were wearing the same scarf and while talking about our mutual interests some interesting ideas sparked! Our first collaborative approach was focusing on the concept of inhalable jewellery, and this led us into research on metals on a Nanoscale. Nano is a pre-fix which means x 10-9. So, if we want to ‘visualise’ a nanoparticle, we can imagine taking a large beach ball and then making its volume a billion times smaller. On a comparative scale, if the diameter of a marble was one nanometre, then the diameter of the Earth would be about one meter. Also, a human hair is about 80.000 - 100.000 nm in diameter and this is just about as small as we can see with the naked eye. We see objects when light is reflected from them and travels into our eyes. However, nanoparticles are much smaller than the wavelength of visible light and so it is impossible for us to resolve them. We just can’t focus on something so small! – But how we make jewellery from something, which is invisible? Well if you get enough of the invisible stuff, you can then see it…