Perfume Maki Ueda 20 Aug 2018

Dew of Afghanistan

The Scent of Social Enterprises with Refugees

Maki Ueda was inspired by a fellow immigrant: an Afghan feminist whom she met on a civic integration course. Maki followed Afghan politics, thinking of her friend. She likes to think of her while she makes perfume from the materials that she would use from Afghanistan and from the women who build their lives there.


Dew of Afghanistan Het Parfum tokens -


Het Parfum

The perfume Dew of Afghanistan is by olfactory artist Maki Ueda for Mediamatic’s sensuous game around city planning; Het Parfum. This interactive, social game explores the future of a much-debated area in Amsterdam’s city centre: the Navy Terrain. Thus with five different perfumers, five tailor-made fragrances give expression to various prospective visions of the city; one of which being social enterprises with refugees.

Why Social Enterprises with Refugees?

The overall mission of the Navy Terrain is to transform it from being an off-limits military terrain, to an accessible public place of research, recreation, and housing. The influx of refugees and immigrants in the recent years was the topic of debates and tension. Barriers have prevented groups of people from working, living, and socializing. The possibility of a social enterprise for refugees would bring a sense of inclusivity, education, and hospitality to those who need it.

Maki's personal letter

It was in the year 2001. Having emigrated to The Netherlands, I was placed in an on-year full-time school to learn Dutch and social manners by government. The class consisted of immigrants who came for “love” to marry with The Dutch (like me), Turkish/Moroccan those came for economical purposes, and some refugees who came just to live “safe”.

I became friend with a refugee woman from Afghanistan. She was a university teacher in her own country and a “feminism activist”. She came to me and said “Maki, can you write about feminism of your own country for my feminism magazine?” 

Compared to Afghanistan, we Japanese women are highly educated, however we have to look and behave “cute”, therefore we lack the equal rights on the job market. “How to Become a Perfect Japanese Woman”, a manual I wrote, was the metaphor of these social pressures. (This actually has developed my early artwork “Eau de Parfum Perfect Japanese Woman”.)

I lost contact with her after the school, so imagined what she could have been doing afterwards, to survive in The Netherlands, and at the same time to help education for girls in Afghanistan.

After the temporary government was established there, some farmers started to grow rose and orange flowers to achieve essential oils. The oils are well valued in the western market. So in my imagination, she would be making perfumes solely made of materials from Afghanistan. We are happy to spend cents on this perfume, because it would bring a bright future for the families with girls. And we are happy to smell the nice fragrances. That’s a sort of model I would love to dream of. 

About Maki Ueda

Maki Ueda is an olfactory artist who explores the use of scent through interactive games and art installations. Through these projects local cultures are being explored and experienced by means of smell. In her project Aromatic Journey, the audience intuitively experiences essences of a culture by smelling. Often for Maki's scent works, the results are not a perfume to wear, but to smell and trigger one's memory and imagination.

Het Parfum is a collaboration between Mediamatic, The Institute for Art and Olfaction,Play the City, and the five perfumers: Spyros Drosopoulos, Maki Ueda, Ricardo Moya, Niklaus Mettler, and Alessandro Gualtieri. Het Parfum is part of Uitmarkt 2018 that is held around the Oosterdok area which involves the Navy Terrain.

Open-source perfume formula for Dew of Afghanistan

The formula for this perfume is open to all for you to recreate and build upon.

rose oil (Turkey)


neroli (orange flower) oil


labdanum 50%DPG




Perfumer's suggestion for alternative materials:
Rose oil (Turkey)  synthetic rose base (rose oil type)
Neroli (Orange Flower) oil synthetic orange flower base

The Perfumes of the Navy Terrain

Splash! by Spyros Drosopoulos
Dew of Afghanistan by Maki Ueda
Love & Tonic by Ricardo Moya
Filtered Beans by Niklaus Mettler
White Military Marina by Alessandro Gualtieri