The Magic of Natural and Organic Perfume

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Zimmermann has a dream: to create the fragrance that captivates people’s senses, that transforms them, and perhaps create a peaceful world.

Jörg Zimmermann’s workplace is all the way at the top, just below the roof of WALA /Dr. Hauschka. Here he finds the quiet he needs to stimulate all the senses. In his head, he creates the fragrances that lend Dr. Hauschka products their individual note. “Every product is different and thus requires its own statement.” Dr. Hauschka Skin Care uses exclusively natural substances compatible with the uncompromising demands of the company’s philosophy. “My job is to convey these values in my fragrance creations. None of the human senses is so old and so directly connected to the limbic system as the sense of smell. It is closely related to memory and emotion,” says Jörg Zimmermann. “Fragrances make it possible to travel through time, to recall that which was long forgotten. Nothing triggers more spontaneous attraction or rejection than fragrances – they are encrypted messages transmitted by our environment. The magic of scent has always been of major importance; the sensual allure of fragrance enjoys a long tradition.” The ‘Master of Fragrances’ at Dr. Hauschka has been under their spell for as long as he can remember. As a result, it was always his hope to work with fragrances. It is a characteristic trait of Jörg Zimmermann to pursue goals with passion and perseverance. “One needs this trait as a perfumer. You always have to be on top of things, not be discouraged by failed experiments.” It takes months, sometimes years, for a new fragrance to be created. Zimmermann writes down hundreds of formulas only to discard them in the end. Perhaps two of 100 fragrance creations are ever actually implemented. “The ability to smell analytically is important.” He uses his nose to deconstruct a perfume into its components and recognise what ingredients disturb the fragrance’s harmonious perception, what amounts to increase or decrease, and what substances to add or remove. “Every fragrance consists of top notes, middle notes and base notes”, explains Jörg Zimmermann. The top notes form the initial impression, the introduction of the perfume so to speak. They are followed by the middle notes, which convey the heart of the fragrance and give it shape. The third and final fragrance note is the base note. It represents the finale of the fragrance, much like in a symphony orchestra. “The trick is to harmonise these three parts, to co-ordinate their temporal and spatial progression.”

Portait Parfumeur Joerg Zimmermann 4.4.08

The member of the French Perfumers’ Society requires absolute quiet during his work. This allows him to stimulate all the senses and recall images from his memory. After all, creating a scent involves much more than simply combining raw materials. It connects the world of thought with the world of feeling. Jörg Zimmermann composes, hears internal music, senses a wonderful lightness. Like a painter who has the image he wants to paint in front of his eyes, Zimmermann first creates the perfume in his head. He looks for base harmonies, previously combined individual scent compositions, to serve as a foundation. And then everything begins to flow. Then the perfumer begins to experiment with the tones of his “fragrance organ”. This is the name given to the collection of essential oils from which he selects the key components for a fragrance. Some 200 substances are available, of which Zimmermann uses various numbers as ingredients in his composition. The more technical skills of developing perfumes can certainly be learned, but the ability to compose fragrances must be inborn. Jörg Zimmermann undeniably has this skill. “But I didn’t know what path to follow at first to make professional use of my abilities,” he recalls. So he studied art and cultural education, sharpening his artistic, literary and musical senses. There is no classical course of training to become a perfumer, neither in Germany nor abroad. But France is considered the mother country of perfume. At the age of 30, Jörg Zimmerman journeyed to southern France – more specifically, to Grasse, the capital of the perfume world. Gloves were perfumed in this city near the Côte d’Azur as early as the 17th century. Born in Tettnang, Germany and raised in the city of Baden-Baden, Zimmermann studied at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery from 2004 to 2006 and then worked with leading perfumers. He has been working for Dr. Hauschka since summer 2006, continuing a long-running tradition: the company has never purchased fragrances, choosing to develop them itself instead. “This helps our products to maintain their unmistakable character,” emphasises Zimmermann. Dr. Hauschka skin care products contain no chemical/synthetic fragrances, despite their extensive availability on the market: “We use exclusively natural essential oils of the very highest quality.” Jörg Zimmermann is convinced: “Our customers notice this uniqueness, this strong foundation of knowledge which flows into our products. The soul senses it and is able to regenerate itself – along with the entire person.”

Body Wash Set USA_Press

Dr. Hauschka Body Washes make showering a unique aromatic experience – a gift for the body, mind and soul.

This is based on unmistakable fragrance worlds that evoke images and stories, and stimulate our senses.

Dr. Hauschka Skin Care; Dr. Hauschka Kosmetik

Rose Nurturing Body Wash
Composition with rose – enveloping and mysterious

“As I developed my ideas I kept the following questions in mind: What is the smell of a rose with nurturing and harmonising powers? What qualities does a rose emanate that capture our attention? When you compare the scent of roses, you discover that there is a broad spectrum within the genus. I searched for the most beautiful aspects. Usually fresh, citrus-like fragrances are emitted from the centre of the bud and develop as the rose opens. I discovered orange blossoms, delicate and spicy clove tones, and woody, velvety and creamy components. I was aiming for a creation in which the rose is light and playful, but at the same time very regal and seductive. A rosy and floral heart accord forms the main body around which the other individual aspects are grouped. An amber-like base gives the composition a creamy and gentle finish, which I interpreted using sandalwood and vanilla. They radiate a mysterious and velvety depth.”

Dr. Hauschka Skin Care; Dr. Hauschka Kosmetik

Almond Soothing Body Wash
Composition with almond – delicate and floral

“It was my wish to create a tangible experience of the progression from blossom to fruit, bringing in all these associations. This invoked images of the early days of spring, when the radiant blue sky shimmers above a sea of delicate pink blossoms that appear to dance in the mild air. The idea represented by the composition with almond is the chiffon-like transparency of a pink rose. I used bergamot, ylang-ylang and rose to interpret this floral chord. A balsamic base of tonka bean and vanilla sweeps us away to a sumptuous oriental palace and awakens memories of sweet, pleasurable indulgences.”

Dr. Hauschka Skin Care; Dr. Hauschka Kosmetik

Lemon Lemongrass Vitalising Body Wash
Composition with lemon and lemon grass – sparkling and refreshing

“I was on the lookout for a truly special raw material. I discovered essential oil made from fresh gingerroot, which emits a very citric fragrance. We are mostly familiar with ginger in Asian cuisine, so there is a close association with lemongrass. In the top note we perceive lemon and lime, which have a refreshing and toning effect. Fresh gingerroot and lemongrass draw out the citric impression and create an increasing complexity. However, this is not meant to be a complicated fragrance, but rather a clear, refreshing concept that is made richer with exotic ingredients. I see two tendencies in this fragrance. The first is toward athleticism, dynamism and vitality; the second, the concentration that comes from increased alertness. The scent stimulates and creates a presence – a wonderful shot of refreshment.”

Dr. Hauschka Skin Care; Dr. Hauschka Kosmetik

Lavender Sandalwood Calming Body Wash
Composition of lavender and sandalwood – quiet and harmonising freshness

“I was looking for a special variety of lavender with a gentle floral note and a lot of elegance. I found it at an elevation of 1,000 metres. This lavender is notable for the sense of peace and harmony that it projects. However, it also possesses a certain gentle yet rejuvenating freshness. The Australian sandalwood works its charm in the background, embedded in a regal, ambery chord, which rounds off the quiet freshness of the lavender with an enveloping, amber-like warmth. For me the fragrance creates associations of Provençal villages rising from the morning mist along the lines of hills on the Côte d’Azur.”

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The language of nature

Jörg Zimmermann, perfume specialist at Dr. Hauschka, tells us how he creates the Dr. Hauschka fragrances and what the secret code of nature is all about.

Dr. Hauschka: Can you train your sense of smell?
Jörg Zimmermann: Yes. It is not just about smelling it is about conscious smelling. It is like turning on a switch in your memory so that on smelling an individual substance you create associations with it and internalise the fragrance. Later, when you smell the substance again, you automatically associate it with certain imagery and can recognise it. Conscious smelling is a minor change in perception: we have a clear knowledge of how the fragrance affects us, where we smell it, how we perceive it and what we associate with it. Anyone who trains in this art and writes down their experiences will develop their own fragrance index for reference at any time.

Dr. Hauschka: Was there a specific moment when knew you were destined to be a perfume specialist?
Jörg Zimmermann: When I was four, I went exploring on my own in a nearby forest and had an intense experience with nature. I can still remember it well: at midday, the sun hit the forest at an angle, shining through the young trees and onto a small cluster of wood anemones that had sprung up all over the fresh forest floor. I suddenly felt like a face was looking at me; like these little flowers wanted to give me a message. I felt their desire to be looked at, but how was I to understand their essence? I looked at the flowers for a long time and fell in love with them. They bade me to move closer and absorb their silent message through their scent. I carefully knelt down on the ground and cautiously placed my nose by the opening of the greenish-yellow flowers. For a moment, I believed in magic; a natural power that dominates us and rules everything. Was this love in its purest form?
The joy I felt was overwhelming. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. My greatest wish was to hold onto and remember it. Through scent, I had connected with nature. From then on, I could not help but wonder about the hidden world behind things. I wanted to understand the essence of everything I came across, remember things through their scent and enable others to share my experiences.

Dr. Hauschka: But is that actually possible? After all, we do not smell the plants directly but simply their fragrance through the products?
Jörg Zimmermann: It is not about smelling plants directly but rather how we are affected by our memory of doing so. Stimuli are needed to trigger the memory. If you imagine that each essential oil represents the essence of a plant, you can envisage what it means to convert this into a sensual experience that tells a story.
By integrating the essence of individual plants you create the essence of an overall product. This sensual processing method humanises the substance and makes it accessible.
As a perfume specialist, I regard it as my cultural duty to subject the essential oils to processes in which the ideas archetypically embedded in us become something that can be experienced. Only on smelling transitions do we actually develop the idea that the product aims to convey.
Dr. Hauschka: How do you develop a fragrance?
Jörg Zimmermann: It is very conscious, reflective work. I put myself in a state of heightened consciousness and imagine what will happen when I combine the proportions of each fragrance. For me, it is about revealing the secret laws of nature, or in other words discovering the meaning of each individual substance and how the idea of the fragrance could be logically realised so that when we smell it, we perceive an organic process and an atmosphere can be created. Secret

Dr. Hauschka: Secret laws of nature?
Jörg Zimmermann: It is like with music. I can press all the keys on a piano and make sound. Music is only created when I press certain keys in a certain way and a feeling arises from the logical sequence of the melody. The greater my understanding of nature’s secret code, the easier it is for people to enjoy all elements of a fragrance.
When I am working on a fragrance, I mentally collate the plants so that I can sense their smell. These are the times in which I have a clear picture of how things logically go together to create a metamorphosis and make tangible transitions between top and base notes.
In my memory, I always find part of one substance that contains part of another substance. There are some elements of fragrance that may be similar, such as bergamot, rose or neroli. I look at the similarities and differences so that I can add things to complement the former. Once all the parameters have been skilfully aligned and the fragrance and the idea are both tangible, something truly magical occurs.

Dr. Hauschka: Is that what makes Dr. Hauschka fragrances special?
Jörg Zimmermann: Yes. The top, middle and base notes of the Dr. Hauschka fragrances can be transmitted to the entire body. By perceiving the fragrance in different areas of our body, we trigger an inner vitality, which can be externally observed as a kind of aura. In contrast, conventional, synthetic fragrances are something we only wear externally, like accessories.
The high level of vitality and complexity associated with natural fragrances is extremely striking and explains why they are so important to humans. Humans too are highly complex and can wonderfully combine themselves with things that complement them. Attention and creativity, attraction and curiosity are created – but why is nature so good at this? It does not impose its will but instead adds refinement while stimulating and enlivening our body’s own activity.

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Portait Parfumeur Joerg Zimmermann 4.4.08

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4 thoughts on “The Magic of Natural and Organic Perfume

  1. Lovely read, thank you. I feel like I’m going a little mad here. The thing is, 10/15 years ago I remeber purchasing a Dr Hauschka perfume or scent. It was, I think, a limited edition but was super hyped since the Ray of Light Madonna stated it was one of her favourites. I miss that scent and I can’t find it anywhere online, not even a few lines about it. Could you please help me solve the mystery?

    1. Hi Maria, it was called Octave and was discontinued many years ago. It wasn’t limited though it was in the range, prior to being discontinued. We really hope to see eau de cologne or perfume some day again. Regards, Janet 🙂

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