(4 MINUTE READ)
As I cycle down Friedelstrasse on a frosty November morning, I nearly miss the little emporium I have come to see. But when an old ‘Glaserei’ sign catches my eye, I quickly brake to a squeaking halt, so I may take a closer look.
Before I reach the door, I am welcomed by a delightful melody of musky sweet aroma’s and I know I have found the right place. I’ve come to meet Ryoko Hori; a perfume designer, massage- & aroma therapist and co-founder of the beautiful Ryoko Senses Salon.
The salon–indeed a tonic for the senses–is as beautiful and inviting as the enchanting aroma that hugs the air, and it’s creators–I soon learn–even more so.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO MOVE AWAY FROM FASHION AND INTO THE WORLD OF PERFUMES AND AROMAS?
“I indeed studied fashion design after finishing high school in Tokyo. I then worked for a Japanese fashion designer. I didn’t see myself as being in ‘fashion’, but rather ‘creation’. His creations were incredible; so far away from this ‘fast-fashion’ industry. Since the 70s & 80s he had been working closely with traditional Japanese artisans and crafts (which were sadly getting lost) and combining it with new technologies and modernity. I learnt so much.”
“‘Move away’ may therefore not be the right expression, as I truly enjoyed it. But I wanted to create my life and independence by learning something healthy and good for myself; for my own wholeness, and also for others.”
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN WORKING WITH FRAGRANCES OR IS THERE A SINGULAR EVENT THAT MOVED YOU IN THIS DIRECTION?
“I’ve always been interested in the connection between mind and body. Aromatherapy is a part of the practice and I have been practising it for over 20 years. I became a therapist after finishing my diploma for remedial massage therapy in Sydney. My studies also included Seitai (Japanese healing method), Ayurveda and other healing modalities in different countries with different teachers and gurus.”
“I have personally been receiving the benefits of aromatherapy and were always fascinated by the wonder and power of scents. I later studied perfume making in France, and I now create my own scents. Although, my creations are always rooted in aromatherapy and not the classic perfume making, which include synthetics.”
“For me working with 100% natural ingredients like essential oils is fundamental because they contain the soul and healing properties of plants. I do not work with scents per se, but rather the role of smell. It is similar to plant medicine; they are communicating with you through scents and working within our entire systems (mind-body-soul).”
WE SPOKE A LITTLE ABOUT SCENT OR SMELL AS A TYPE OF LANGUAGE. I AM REMINDED OF HOW BEES AND EVEN TRESS COMMUNICATE AND SHARE INFORMATION THROUGH SCENT. HOW DO YUO THINK WE CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WORLD AND BRING IT INTO OUR EVERYDAY LIVES?
“We, humans, are a part of nature. That’s it. You cannot do anything separated from the natural world. We are simply connected.”
“I think we can start with awareness. When you are aware, so many things can change in different layers. You can listen to the voice of your body, to the nature surrounding you. Then you see the connection. Also living with organics (foods of course but also objects made by hand with natural materials) as much as possible make so much sense.”
SCENTS ARE VERY STRONG TRIGGERS FOR MEMORIES, DO YOU THINK THEY CAN PLAY A ROLE IN EMOTIONAL WELLBEING?
“Yes. When you smell something, the odour molecules directly travel up the part of the brain, which is called our limbic system. This is where our emotions and memories are dealt with.
So, even before thinking or analysing it, emotions and memories which had lain dormant, can be evoked with scents. Furthermore, when you smell essential oils, in addition to emotional wellbeing, scents also give different benefits to our physiology. That is Aromatherapy.”
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE RANGE OF PERFUMES THAT YOU DEVELOPED.
“I create all-natural perfumes using essential oils. They are really close to my heart and dear to me. I have and always will, create something personal, regardless of the market and without thinking of commercial aspects.”
“For example, my first series ‘Listening to Scent’ was created a few years ago after my unforgettable journey to India with my father. My emotions, memories and experiences were translated into these scents. I later asked my American friend and artist, Dayni Staddon to write poems for my perfumes. The poems indeed tell my personal journeys.”
“I have also been working on another scent for a few years now; a homage to my great-grand mother, whom I’ve never met. I am very connected to my grandmother; she taught me all kinds of crafts like sewing, knitting and making things with my hands. After she passed away, I found a picture of her as a little girl with her mother (my great-grandmother). I really love this picture and I started to remember how much my grandmother liked her mother–always telling me beautiful stories about her. It is a process of remembering my dear grandmother’s memories, and understanding the era of that time. (My great-grandmother was born in 1900 in Japan). It is a very personal process and study with lots of communication within myself and a deep inner journey I go through. I see thus my perfumes as my little artworks.”
“Although my creations are so personal, I am so glad to be able to share them with people and to see that my perfumes can also impact others. It is almost like magic!”
WHEN YOU SHARED THE FRAGRANCES OF YOUR PERFUMES WITH ME, YOU NOTED THAT ONE HAS A YIN ENERGY AND THEREFORE GROUNDING EFFECT ON THE BODY WHILE ANOTHER HAS A MASCULINE YANG EFFECT. DO YOU ALWAYS DESIGN YOUR AROMAS WITH THIS IN MIND?
Yes. The effects, properties and characteristics of plants are as important in my creations as the smell.
DO YOU HAVE A LIBRARY OF SMELLS?
“Many! But I especially like old books. As you see ‘perfume’ comes from ‘per-fumum’, which in Latin means ‘through smoke’. Since the ancient civilizations, our ancestors have been burning plants such as resins and woods. Today we call it ‘incense’, but that was the original ‘perfume’. I find it fascinating to know the historical backgrounds of plants along with their traditional usages.”
I THINK BERLIN IS QUITE SPECIAL BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE HERE ARE INTERESTED IN VARIOUS ASPECTS OF NATURE AND NATURAL PRACTISES. DO YOU FIND BERLINERS TO BE MORE OPEN TO YOUR CRAFT? HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO OTHER CITIES THAT YOU’VE LIVED IN LIKE PARIS, TOYKYO AND SYDNEY?
“Yes, I do. I arrived in Berlin by chance, and have been so lucky! But perhaps it is that kind of era now? It could be that indeed many places in the world people are getting more and more aware of natural practices as a result of serious climate changes and natural catastrophes and so on…”
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF YOUR STORE AND THE OTHER PRODUCTS THAT YOU DEVELOP.
“Everything started around my therapy in 2013 and naturally and slowly my little universe has developed with my business partner, Daniel. Senses are our main focus. Our space, called Senses Salon, is a place for wellbeing and sensory exploration. We present a curated selection of exquisite, handcrafted objects by both locals and international artists, Japanese antiques, alongside our original, natural skincare and scent related products like natural incenses. We also offer various workshops as well as tea ceremonies.”
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE SCENT? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT?
“Yes! Oud. It is the smell of my home. We burn oud or sandalwood in Buddhist temples in Japan. I got so used to this scent, but this is always so special to me and touches me every time I smell it. It is the scent of the human soul.”
- RYOKO SENSES SALON
- Friedelstraße 11
- 12047 Berlin – Neukölln