Studio Visit: Awakening the Senses with Vitruvi

Vitruvi the style line

Photos by Sophia Hsin for The Style Line

By Sara Panton – Shop Vitruvi Photos by Sophia Hsin for The Style Line

The world of fashion and design draws on our sense of

sight and touch, but one of the most powerful and often under-utilized of the five senses is our sense of smell. There is a subtle sexiness about the power of scent, and after exploring the effects of it in my life and through Vitruvi I was happy to share my story with The Style Line community. I have always been inspired by the concept of living with intention and the science of how we can intentionally leverage our five senses. In creating Vitruvi I have realized that the aromas we choose throughout our day can influence our mood and behavior just as much as the thoughts we think or the food we eat. I hope this piece inspires the exploration of how you can weave the benefits of scent strategically throughout your day.


Vitruvi the style line

The Scent of Nostalgia:

Creating a collection of products inspired by rituals and routines means people often ask me about my daily routine… The truth is that my job as CEO and Creative Director of Vitruvi means no day is ever the same.

The concept for Vitruvi started in 2012.  Since founding it with my brother Sean, it has become a luxury aromatherapy company that uses inspiration from ancient botanical practices to create products that support health centers in developing countries.

I was first introduced to botanicals while studying global health and working with an international charity.  In my first few years of medical school I became fascinated by the olfactory cranial nerve and the mechanism of how scent affects the brain. I learned that while actions such as what we eat are used to change our productivity, scent has been shown to have a direct correlation to areas of the brain responsible for focus and motivation thus making it a powerful behaviour changing tool if used strategically.

Although the science of scent has been studied for decades by the perfume industry Sean and I wanted to design products that were as functional as they were beautiful. Our collection of oils was created for a practice known as ‘scent association’.  This is a phenomenon that occurs when the same aroma is used repeatedly for a specific task. This repetition trains the brain to associate a specific scent to a certain behavior or cognitive state. For example, if an aroma with calming notes is used during regular meditation, when the same scent is experienced without meditating the brain is triggered to reach the same state of relaxation it has previously associated to it.

This phenomenon has occurred for me each year since I was thirteen and started buying myself a perfume for my birthday. Each perfume became associated to that year, and now with over a dozen perfumes the scent of each one bring me back to a specific time in my life. Using this knowledge we created each of the seven blends for the Rituals collection for use intentionally throughout the day. From waking up with the aroma of juniper to going to sleep with calming notes of vetiver — Each blend is designed to flow into the next guiding your brain and nose throughout the day.

Creature of Habit:

I am usually traveling once a month and actually prefer living out of a suitcase. While traveling I try my best to maintain my routines and use our collection throughout the day to help establish my routine despite being in different time zones. While in Vancouver my average day usually involves meetings at our office, time in the studio testing new blends and usually a quick walk on the seawall for some fresh West Coast air.

 Vitruvi the style line

6:30 AM: 

Fresh mint and citrus tea with fruit or a green smoothie for breakfast, starting the day with citrus wakes the brain up and promotes happiness.

 Vitruvi the style line

7:15 AM:

Early morning cycle class at Eastwood Cycle is my favourite way to start the day. It is my only exercise and booking a couple 45 minute classes are a must for my weekly routine. The owner Jillian is so kind and the studio feels like a spa. The change rooms are Moroccan inspired and they give out cold eucalyptus infused towels at the end of each class… So refreshing!

 Vitruvi the style line

9:00 AM:

Emails and calls at my desk with our FOCUS aromatherapy oil. It contains a special blend of lemongrass, basil and rosemary designed to promote memory and productivity.

 Vitruvi the style line

11:00 AM:

Coffee at my favourite coffeeshop Timbertrain to review business development with Sean while enjoying one of Vancouver’s best cappuccinos.

 Vitruvi the style line

6:00 PM: 

Light dried sage to cleanse my home, after the day and go for a quick walk on the Vancouver seawall to get some fresh air before making dinner and finishing emails.

8:00 PM:

Drinks with friends at Chambar to enjoy a botanical infused cocktail.

 Vitruvi the style line

Looking Ahead:

As someone who loves rituals and ceremony I welcome the fresh start that comes with each New Year. I am looking forward to more travel and to exploring new countries to source oils from. In the upcoming year we are looking forward to growing our editorial series which is an index of interviews, articles, art, and photography that explore botanicals, wellness and beauty practices. We hope for it to become a resource and platform for readers to be inspired by and learn from the daily lives and practices of people and cultures around the world.

“I hope this piece inspires the exploration of how you can weave the benefits of scent strategically throughout your day.”