Introducing the Italian Perfumery Institute - Up Close & Personal with President Maurizio Cavezzali

2023 . 06 . 01 | written by Ermano Picco

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Italy is widely considered the cradle of perfume, and though France owes much to the figure of Catherine de Medici for sowing there the seed of perfumery, for longtime anybody aiming to work in the industry had no choice but moving there to attend perfumery schools.

In recent times things are looking up though, and nowadays also in Italy there are a few education centers on the subject. Since last December we happily have one more, the Italian Perfumery Institute.

Leveraging on the experience of Equipe International and the success of Esxence – The Art of Perfumery Event, the Italian Perfumery Institute is born as a School of Higher Education to implement on the Italian territory a qualified course of study valuing sensoriality, as well as perfume history. The Educational offer is precisely formulated to develop at various levels the basic knowledge of perfumery and train specialized professional figures drawing on the Italian tradition in perfumery while looking to the future and to the next generation of talent.

Every year more than 400 new perfumes are launched on the international market generating a roughly estimated market turnover of 43.9 billion Euro. Perfumery never ceased to grow reinventing itself through strengthening of online sales channels and exploring innovative communication platforms and novel forms of storytelling. Even the last tough years confirmed this trend with the pandemic bringing back to the fore the importance of the sense of smell and its original connection with well-being, as well as a medium for people to express their own personality.

In this worldwide scenario, Italy stands as the fifth-greatest market right behind USA, France, Germany and UK. Moreover, the steadily growing interest for niche perfumery, or as some prefer to call it artistic perfumery, and in general for perfume as a form of craftsmanship and creative expression since its early days finds in the Italian landscape a peculiar market. So studying perfumery in Italy is an effective key that can open doors to concrete employment opportunities.

The first item to crop up in the Italian Perfumery Institure programme catalogue is the course study for “Fragrance Evaluator & Marketing Specialist”. The Course is free and recognized at European level, and is open to perfume enthusiasts and professionals. Applicants must hold a high school digree or a professional degree and they must be based in Lombardy.

The first class taking place at Fondazione Cova in Corso Vercelli downtown in Milan started last December with mandatory attendance. Suited for people with different interests and of different age categories, it aims to form professionals ready to enter the labor market through internship programs directly involving leading companies in the sector. After completing the course, attendees will receive a Certificate in advanced technical specialization, the equivalent of the fourth level of the EQF recognized in the national and European job market that enables the access to ITS courses.

Education activity at IPI

But that exactly a Fragrance Evaluator & Marketing Specialist does?
In a nutshell, it is the closest person to the perfumer, the “nose” that composes fragrances, and is in charge of bringing together what the customer wants and what’s successfully palatable to consumers with a specific focus on product performance and compliance with regulatory requirements. Usually a Fragrance Evaluator works for a Fragrance Company or companies in the perfumery industry, e.g. perfume brands, or beauty care and home care enterprises collaborating in the development of new olfactory projects.The skills developed by the students during the training will allow them also to follow different career paths like consulting on sales, product development, marketing, and communication or, why not, start their own entrepreneurial activity in the perfumery market exploiting the acquired basic knowledge.

A fragrance development is far more complex than it seems and gets through various stages where such figure plays an important role. The Fragrance Evaluator is involved in every stage of the project, from understanding the client’s brief to the final outcome, always keeping a global vision on the reference market needs and the target customers. This allows as well to address at best the product placement strategy for example.

To better understand the Italian Perfumery Institute educational offer and how it is going to implement it, I picked up the phone and called an old acquaintance in the Italian fragrance scenery, Mr. Maurizio Cavezzali, founder of Equipe International, co-founder of Esxence – The Art Perfumery Event, and recently appointed President of the Italian Perfumery Institute. Always a gentleman, he agreed to answer my questions.

Dear Maurizio, it’s been a long time since our last interview. I so appreciate you giving us this time. Thank you, let’s head on to the questions.

  • First up, I’m curious about the name ”Italian Perfumery Institute”; it is aimed at an international audience, while foregrounding Italy. What does it mean and which values represents nowadays Italianness in the fragrance industry?
    We wondered for a longtime about the name and so we understood how important it was to focus on our origins. Italy is a unique country excelling in the world for creativity, craftsmanship, and beauty. Perfumery is part of this virtuous circle as well.

  • When and how did you get the idea of establishing the Italian Perfumery Institute?
    The idea came a few years ago while seeing Esxence grow, and realizing young people were more and more interested by the world of perfume, it’s then we understood the time had come to start.
    With Equipe International we deal with education in different areas, and through the years we helped to set up quite a few courses and Schools of Advanced Training. Moreover, we work alongside various Universities supporting classes and MAs in Communication, Marketing, and Design and often we take Esxence as a starting point for students to create innovative projects.
    Working closely with Academies on the one hand, and with many companies in the beauty and perfume industry on the other hand we saw the need for a place where to nurture talent and raise the culture of perfume to an academic level, to create specialized paths accessible to everybody, above all youngsters that to date had no choice to get a technical background but moving overseas.
    We decided to start with a program dedicated in particular to neo-graduates, but not only that. This first course of the Italian Perfumery Institute started also thanks to the collaboration with two partners; ITS Nuove Tecnologie della Vita, the only Higher Technical Institute for New Life Technologies in the chemistry area in Italy, and CFF Creative Flavours & Fragrances, among the Italian leaders in fragrance creations.
    We also succeeded in giving the course of studies for free thanks to the support of Regione Lombardia.

  • Let’s go on to the course study for “Fragrace Evaluator & Marketing Specialist” that started in December. Who’s the ideal candidate the course is particularly suited for?
    The Fragrance Evaluator & Marketing Specialist is a professional working within fragrance companies or companies in the perfumery and beauty field, collaborating to the development of new orlfactory projects.
    The ideal candidate is a person aiming to acquire cross-disciplinary skills in the world of perfume, so as to evaluate various professional paths within fragrance companies and beyond. He will be able to work as a consultant for brands and companies in the retail field, in product development, in communication and marketing. Moreover, he will manage the basic knowledge to start entrepreneurial activities in perfumery.

  • Can you tell us a little more about how the course is structured?
    The course is composed of two parts; a theoretical one in class (550 hours), and a practical one (450 hours) in companies.
    Lessons are both theoretical, and practical. A few examples: perfume history, sensory analysis, raw materials and composition techniques learning, markets analisys, packaging design and sustainability of the supply-chain, social media management, and web writing.
    Students work on specific projects through classroom lectures, hours of hands-on laboratory, meetings with companies, and experience tours.

  • How was the call for applications being received so far?
    We had many requests for the first edition and we’re gathering many indications of interest coming from all over Italy for the upcoming training programs.
    I think the presence of knowledgeable partners, top professionals in the industry together with the network of Esxence have been an important foundation to start.
Italian Perfumery Institute at Esxence

  • Milan is a strategic hub for companies and events in the field. How the connection with this industrial network can play a role in the training of future specialists?
    Exactly. Milan and Lombardy are a fruitful area for this industry. Just think of the great responsiveness after the pandemic with large investments in innovation and sustainability. On a turnover of 12 billion euros nationally, roughly 8 billions were generated in the region of Lombardy only.
    Esxence - The Art Perfumery Event that turned Milan into an international meeting point for artistic perfumery this year hit an unexpected record… 10.300 visitors, professionals from all over the world, but also many locals!
    It is natural for us to start from here, looking throughout Italy though that’s a cradle of excellences, leading professionals, and future talent.

  • Can you give us a tiny spoiler on guest lecturing professionals as well?
    The teaching staff is composed of more than 20 industry professionals with experience in perfumery and beauty, experts and pros who offer their know-how to our students.
    The teaching direction is entrusted to Beatrice Balzarotti, who collaborates with us since many years on Esxence contents as an expert of Sensory Anthropology. Graduated in Communication and New Media, and specialized in Anthropology and Ethnology, she held many roles in the world of perfumery, as laborantine and evaluator, as well as consultant for Communication and Training.
    Among the people that took part to this first edition, I’d mention some of the great Italian perfumers like Maurizio Cerizza, who taught students Composition and Formulation Techniques, and Luca Maffei who gave a lecture on the creative process behind a perfume. Neuroscientist and Science Communicator Anna D’Errico talked about the aspects connected to the Physiology of Olfaction. Silvio Levi will give a talk about past and future of Artistic Perfumery. CFF has supported the course opening its laboratory to students and giving them the opportunity to learn hands-on all the aspects of perfume making thanks to many lessons with professionals about composition, regulations, marketing, and evaluation. Moreover, there are lessons focusing more on communication and the language related to fragrances with journalists and writers. Little by little, IPI social media are introducing all the teachers and the subjects, it is really a first-class faculty.
    Our goal is to involve as many players as possible through the whole supply chain because Italian Perfumery Institute is a project aiming on the one hand to guide who wants to work in the perfume industry, but on the other hand aims to support the companies on our region, allowing so increase our resources.

  • We are about in the end of the term. Which are the feedbacks and inputs you got from students to date?
    Students are enthusiastic about it. It is a very heterogeneous class of students; some of them are very young, some others already worked in this field, some others are professionals wishing to pursue a new business. It’s exciting to see the passion they have in common for this industry.
    At Esxence they had the opportunity to be key players, as we made for them a spot in the partners area, and the school was the focus of a dedicated lecture.
    The course ends at the end of June, followed by a short-term internship, and there are various positions where they can challenge themselves.

  • Last but not least, what’s next, I mean, which are the plans for the future to broaden and improve the training concept?
    We created the IPI – Italian Perfumery Institute with the aim to offer educational paths and deep learning able to value the excellences in our Country and to unlock new job opportunities through a supply chain, the perfume and beauty one generating every year more and more value.
    In the fall the second edition of this course is going to start, and we’re already working to an Executive Master Program. Given the many requests we received from all over Italy, we hope to bring it to other regions and to grow involving many amazing teachers and professionals dealing with olfaction and perfumery. After many years of work, the goal is now looking to the future of the new generations.

IPI Classroom
IPI Classroom