These Futuristic Perfumes Smell Like Things That Will Be Destroyed By Climate Change

Artist Catherine Young figured she better bottle up her favorite natural smells before they disappear.

As climate change worsens, so will our collective sense of loss. Coastlines, cities, crops, and entire species will disappear. Artist Catherine Young has created a perfume line that bottles up the scents of things we enjoy today, but will be diminished–or gone–soon enough.


Called The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store (T.E.M.P.S., which is French for “time”), the perfume line consists of eight scents: Coasts, Coffee, Honey, Wine, Eucalyptus, Peanuts, Ice, and Hardwood trees. All of the scents were created in partnership with Givaudan, a Swiss flavors and fragrance company with a commitment to environmental sustainability.

Young told the company what scents she wanted and the feelings she hoped to evoke, and they did the rest. Ice, for example, was actually a scent that Givaudan already had in its lab. “They gave me different forms of wine and peanuts, I had to choose which ones I wanted for the project,” says Young.

The logo for the perfume bottles is a hummingbird. Young explains this decision on her website:

Because of its speed, the hummingbird is known as a messenger and stopper of time. It is also a symbol of love, joy, and beauty. The hummingbird is also able to fly backwards, teaching us that we can look back on our past. But, this bird also teaches that we must not dwell on our past; we need to move forward. When the hummingbird hovers over flowers while drinking nectar, we learn that we should savor each moment, and appreciate the things we love.

Many of the scents are reminiscent of places and objects that are threatened in the Philippines, where she is currently working. Some are personal choices. Young is a big fan of coffee, for example. Her favorite scent is Coasts, because it evokes a place rather than an object.

Young has worked with scents before. In graduate school, she created a book filled with smells from New York, Manila, and Barcelona, three cities where she has lived in the past. “Smell for me is the most seductive of the senses. It’s very visceral, instantaneous,” she says. “With the framework of a perfume, it’s being able to juxtapose something very ordinary, like coffee or honey, with something opulent that’s a luxury.”

T.E.M.P.S is part of Young’s solo exhibition, The Apocalypse Project, at the Mind Museum in the Philippines. The scents are available to smell at the museum, but can’t be purchased. Other pieces of the exhibition, which explores imagined futures, include the Climate Couture project (we wrote about that here) and the upcoming Future Feast–a collaboration with chefs to create “dishes of the future.”


“I’ve been tasting things like steak made out of worms,” says Young.

Details on the exhibition are available here.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.