Submissions are judged blindly in the artisan and independent category - as well as in the Aftel Award for Handmade Perfume and the Newcomers Award - accompanied only by a creative brief.
All submissions are tracked by a number, along with a short anonymized text describing the intention for the scent.
The judges for the experimental award category do not review the projects blindly. This is because the projects often require supporting visual material, which often contain identifying information.
Judging the Art and Olfaction Awards is the most important part to get right. Without a healthy judging mechanism, our efforts would be pointless. Here's a run-down on how we approach the complicated task of judging perfume.
For the simple reason that thoughtful people make good decisions, the first step to a fair judging process is picking fair-minded people to judge. For this reason, we take pains to get to know our judges before inviting them to participate. When we start the judging process, we ask the judges to sign off on our code of ethics, which states the principles of how we run the awards. Read our judging code of ethics, here.
Please respect our judges' time and privacy - and the integrity of the awards - and refrain from contacting the judges about your submission.
The artisan and independent categories are judged blindly, in two rounds. The first round takes place at the Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles, and the second round takes place remotely at the judges' homes and labs around the world.
In the preliminary round, the judges come into the Institute for Art and Olfaction, where we have the submissions all prepared for them, in blind vials, accompanied by their anonymized creative brief.
The judges have as many sessions as they need to adequately assess the samples, and are instructed to revisit each sample several times, including during the dry-down. It’s hard work, but each judge pays particular attention to fairness and to giving every submission a fair and impartial chance.
Once the judges have all assessed and scored the perfumes, we average the scores. The top twenty scoring perfumes in each category (artisan and indie) are pulled into the second round of scoring.
For round two, we decant the 20 finalists in each category into blind vials, and send them, along with their creative briefs, to our second round judges, who are dotted around the world. The second round judges have approximately 4 to 6 weeks to make their assessments, and are asked to assign a score to each perfume.
As with round one, the scores are averaged to assess the ten finalists in each category, as well as the two winners.
The Newcomers Award and the Aftel Award for Handmade Perfume have separate juries, and judging is done remotely.
These judges are provided with:
As with the preliminary and finals round, these submissions are sent to the judges in blind vials, identified only by a number and accompanied by the submission's anonymized creative brief.
For the experimental category (known as the Sadakichi Award for Experimental Work with Scent), the process is very similar, except that the judges are aware of the artist's name and work, and have the opportunity to view supporting materials - images, video, sound.
As with the other categories, the Sadakichi Award judges are asked to score the submissions numerically. These scores are averaged to provide a list of semi-finalists. The judges then convene for discussion about the finalists, and are then asked to rescore. Those new scores are averaged to create the list of five finalists and the winner.
It is very important to us that the judging be as fair and consistent as possible, with maximum respect given to the excellent work that the perfume community has entrusted to us.