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RESEARCH ON OLFACTION IN DESIGN

CAN YOU SMELL HOW TIME FLIES?

 

Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design 2014

 
 
 
 
 

Exploring scent as an information medium

 

The olfactory ambient display is designed for the working place supporting your work flow and, what's more, reminding you in an unobtrusive but effective way of having a break.

 

 
 
 
 
 

The sense of memory and desire

 

This project is an explorative attempt to meaningfully harness the power of the sense of smell. I asked myself whether designers can take smell more seriously and embed scents in their products: How can olfaction enrich design and influence our interactions with in- formation sources? To which extend can scents alter the way we think? This project can be seen as research through design dealing with people‘s reactions on scents and possible design implications.

Diderot called the sense of smell the most sensual of our senses. It is our most primitive, our firstsense. It heightens our reality, informs our desires, triggers memory and constructs our environment. We are smelling every second of our life - about 20 000 times a day - and we cannot resist. Contained in the limbic system, the area of the brain which is responsible for our emotions and the most ancient core of the brain, the sense of smell is our most powerful sense. We smell, feel, associate, take decisions through smell even before rationally thinking and evaluating it. Smelling helps us to find the right partner, warns of trouble, short: it makes us distinguish good from bad. 

 

EXPLORATION


 
 

WHICH MEMORIES, MOMENTS, EMOTIONS CAN BE TRIGGERED BY A CERTAIN SCENT?

 
 
 
 

PERCEPTION GRAPHS

 
 

Several seconds or even minutes passed until the probands perceived the scents. The unforeseeable threshold moment was the most interesting of the test: where does perception begin? Where do scents start getting attention? The scent switch seemed to be the most suitable for a desktop timer: There is a scent for working and a second scent for pausing. Since scents are fleeting and not immediately perceptible both scents intersect for a few minutes.

 

 

TIMELINE FOR THE AMBIENT DEKTOP TIMER BASED ON THE POMODORO MODEL BY FRANSCESCO CIRILLO

 
 
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PROTOTYPING A SCENT EMITTING DEVICE

 
 

After prototyping a device that was able to emit 2 different scents (1 work scent, 1 pause scent) in a certain rhythm, I gave this prototype to people to try out the timer while working. I asked them to record themselves and fill in a questionnaire.

 
 
 

USER TEST