The Olfactive

Felipe Sena

  • Can you tell us of your background and a little about your history?

I am from Montevideo in Uruguay, and I specialize in packaging for the fragrance industry. The word ´design´ has always been part of my life; I would say I was born with it. My mother was a fashion designer and I always saw her creating, looking for inspirational moments that enabled her to create. My father died when I was just a 3-year old boy, therefore I focused my vision on my mother´s creative environment who felt passion for what she did, same passion I feel for my profession nowadays.  

  • Tell us of your early years and how design/art became a big part of your life?

I have always felt curiosity to develop new things. Honing my creativity day after day was a rational decision. I studied graphic design and art direction, but my daily work experience was the one that shaped me as a designer.

  • Where are you based?

I moved to New York a few months ago, I could have never imagined that an email would change my life completely. I had decided that it was a good idea to travel to the big apple in order to improve my command of English and try making new clients. I found Marc Rosen on the internet one day, a famous perfume bottle designer, who had worked with major brands and various celebrities throughout his entire career and had been a professor at Pratt, the most important design school in the United States. It was night time … I sent an email introducing myself and asking for a meeting, as it would be an honor for me to have him see my work. When I woke up, I had an email sitting in my inbox. It was him! His email said: “Felipe, your video and your work is terrific´. My English was so bad that I initially understood that my work was TERRIFYING, imagine how I felt at that moment … After a little while, I understood what he actually meant.  I met him face to face in my first week in New York. I am his Creative Director nowadays. He is my big mentor, he is a great man.

  • What one thing you have learned about life, culture and how it relates to your work?

Socrates once said: ´All I know is that I know nothing´, and I believe I do too. It´s more what I can do than what I can actually say. I have learned that will is power is that the materializing of ideas is a power that is hidden inside each of us. Relying upon and fighting for what you want. I don´t only apply it to my work, self-development is something I try to apply in every side of my life, I want to become a great man.

  • How did you journey into design begin?
    Part of my family has been in the beauty industry since I was born. They gave me the chance to start designing for the fragrance industry, I learned a lot and decided to focus on and specialize in this area.  

  • Can you speak on the differences in steps you take designing different project, fragrance, photo-shoots ext?

Every Project entails different needs. Before starting with a project, I like to carry out research in order to know what path to follow. I always begin with a brief, with a concept that inspires me to create. The fragrance industry is a complex and complete field that starts with the design of the bottle and ends with advertising and promoting it at the point of sale. You work with different professionals from various areas, in between. As a Creative Director, I coordinate work between photographers, editors, 3D designers, printers, advertisers and the list is endless.  Working with other professionals means joy to me, it means learning new things. I take special care of hiring good professionals, but also people who really enjoy what they do.  Besides design, marketing is key. Thinking in marketing terms implies that that design becomes sellable. I also care for the product´s sales, I want the project to be successful in every single way.

  • How has your cultural background shaped your work?

Uruguay is a small country that only has 3m inhabitants. It has a market that demands working with low budgets. I can assure you that working in such an environment hones creativity amazingly, as it requires a great effort to think about how to carry out things in a professional way but with scarce resources. Now, working with bigger budgets, just imagine how much more I can do!

  • What inspires you when you?

It is inspiring to know that there are people who are constantly creating all around the world. Seeing human beings producing gives me strength. If an architect can design and create a 20-floor building, I can design a perfume in a while, can´t I?

  • Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to follow the path of creativity?

When we are children, we don´t have any boundaries to be creative … why do we set limits to that creativity when we grow? Creativity is there, it´s an exercise that we can practice consciously every day, it´s a decision. You don´t need to be a professional or have studied to become creative. Perhaps, a housewife is the one who has the best idea for a new Mercedes Benz commercial.