The Smell of Wood
Every second customer who walks into our Hunter Valley Gallery, opens the door, steps in and says “ Ah! This smells fantastic!” or ‘Smell the wood!” Remarks about the woody scents that fill a person’s nose upon entering the gallery space are the most common first words spoken by visitors – not how beautiful it all is, though that usually comes later, not even “Hello” to the staff, but an instant reaction to that most basic and ancient of the senses, smell. Did you know that smell is the only sense directly connected to the brain? No wonder everything else falls away when a person walks through our door.
People assume it is a room full of woodwork they are smelling but it is a mixture of not only different timbers but also the fragrant oils, waxes and finishes used on our range of furniture and homewares. Bees wax, orange oil, Canuba wax, natural turpentine and linseed oil are in the heady mix but underneath it are the woods themselves. Woody scents are warm, earthy and reassuring and in fact form the important base notes to many famous fragrances which are built on underlying notes of bark, moss and wood oils. Wood oils that are indispensable to perfumery include Sandalwood, Rosewood, Agarwood, Birch and Cedar.
Our own Australian native timbers are deservedly famous for their unique smells. Eucalyptus, Tea-tree, Cedar, Turpentine, Huon Pine plus our distinctive versions of Sandalwood and scented Rosewood are just some, and any of us who have walked through the bush in summer will remember the unforgettable smell of the Australian bush.
Over time the potency of scented woods diminishes – a new delivery of Camphor Laurel boards fills the storeroom with an almost knockout pungency but after a few weeks a light fragrance is all that remains, and this is true of all timbers, but that is the important thing, a little remains. If you walk into a house with wooden furniture and architecture you may not be conscious of the wood base notes but they are there, reassuring and earthy, giving you a feeling of warmth and intimacy. A ceramic tile, metal and glass interior has a different smell and feel altogether that does not talk to our ancient senses like the smell of wood.