Nose in a book (and vice-versa)

Studio 360

There are plenty of books about scent. But what about a scent based on a book? Novelist and perfumer Tanwi Nandini Islam does just that.

As a writer — her first book, “Bright Lines,” was published in 2015 and she’s at work on her second — Islam takes a particular olfactory focus. As a perfumer, she also creates stories — an ephemeral kind built out of scents — for her fragrance and beauty business Hi Wildflower.

Tanwi Nandini Islam poses in her Hi Wildflower studio in Brooklyn, New York.

Tanwi Nandini Islam poses in her Hi Wildflower studio in Brooklyn, New York.


Courtesy of Tanwi Nandini Islam

A few years ago, Islam merged these two aspects of her life for a project she called #GetLit — a series of scented candles based on contemporary novels.

Now, for Studio 360, she creates a fragrance based on Toni Morrison’s masterpiece “Beloved.”

“I definitely walked away with wanting to create this sense of rain, mud, mother’s milk, blood,” she says.

Join Kurt Andersen as he sees (and smells) how Islam adapts this haunting novel into a scent.

Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen, sound engineer Sandra Lopez-Monsalve and Tanwi Nandini Islam talk at Islam’s Hi Wildflower studio.

Kurt Andersen smells a scent offered by Tanwi Nandini Islam.

Tanwi Nandini Islam’s home dining table is covered in scents and testing strips as she builds her “Beloved” perfume.

The testing strips that comprise the “Beloved” perfume draft.

Read more about Islam’s written and olfactory work at her website.

(Originally aired October 25, 2018)

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