Wednesday, 15 October 2014

DR. VICTORIA HENSHAW





In July 2012 one of the most amazing adventures of my life begun: this was the first edition of Design With Scents, the course which I created at Kingston University London with my colleagues Jo Norman and John Ayres and which happened thank to the very first 8 students who bravely signed up for this experimental course on the sense of smell.

One of them was Victoria Henshaw, at the time Professor of Architecture from Manchester University who enlightened us as she shared her interesting area of study: scent and urban environment, her smell and the city blog and "smell walks" she organised around the UK. Victoria had been soon appointed Lecturer in Urban Design and Planning, in the Department of Town and Regional Planning, at The University of Sheffield, recently published the book Urban Smellscapes: Understanding and Designing City Smell Environments and wrote numerous articles including the New York Times which put her at the very fore front in her discipline. Today comes the news that Victoria has left us as she lost a battle with an aggressive illness.

As part of our course students create a "scent for space" solution; I remember so vividly, Victoria paired with Prask Sutton, Marketing Specialist. The two had worked on developing a scent for the students library inside our Kingston University campus. I feel so grateful having met Victoria and having witnessed her genuine passion and tenacious commitment as her creativity unfolded. Her pioneering work in "urban smellscapes" has brought great value to olfaction studies and it is an inspiration for us all. May her soul rest in peace.

Picture courtesy of Ezzidin Alwan, Kingston University London

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

THE SCENT ELEMENT


“Just like architecture, scents envelop the users, and are experienced in 3D in the brain. They always influence the perception of a place. Usually, if not designed properly or not designed at all, a place will not smell as intended. Just like white paint, even fresh air should be attended and designed.  White is not the color of nothing, or the absence of color, white is a precisely designed combination of colors. Similarly scent designers design the feel-clean, or feel-good, or feel-small or feel-vast sensations.” - Christophe Laudamiel

You have until November 2014 to take your nostrils to Venice, Italy. Five scent sculptures designed by Master Perfumer Christophe Laudamiel are part of “OfficeUS”, the US Pavilion exhibition at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale (Giardini) currated by Rem Koolhaas. The scent element inviting architects and the public to re-think the air. I feel truly excited and honoured having assisted Mr. Laudamiel in this installation.


The five “scent atmospheres” bring olfactory dimension to different periods of the last century of American architecture abroad, work being exhibited at OfficeUS. This installation is an important step for the inclusion of olfaction in the understanding of spaces, where the engagement of our sense of smell enhances the engagement with the architecture landscape.


How do scents help travel the architecture century? In the air design of OfficeUS, Laudamiel has used the language of scents in different ways.
 
Like a designer with a pen, scent can “simply” portray a specific environment, in a sort of “olfactory translation” of a physical space. At the same time it can also represent something completely different from what we experience, say the materials and colours for instance, thus balancing the perception we get from a specific architectural style. 


As we progress through the U-shaped building, we can “observe” ourselves and the daily actions we take today within an enclosed environment: laying on the sofa provided in the central room, the scent sculpture makes us "smell the way we live and work” nowadays.

Moving next into the new millenium as the exhibition continues, scents design unknown spaces to inhabit: "SpaceWood 40SUS was created to show that scent is not only about memory:  a scent can also be abstract, help create forward-thinking ideas or help project into the future."


Lastly, the attention is on food-related environments: "Commonly avoided for scent design, yet, apart from the preparation table of a kitchen, food places (restaurants, big or large, bars etc…) often contain smells not appropriate for their elegance, or for the activity inside..." Here Laudamiel uses a scent player showing how we can send a “freshly squeezed lemon onto the walls". 

To view scent sculptures and feel a building: (Copyfree)2014 Les Christophs




Saturday, 14 June 2014

WATERHOUSE

http://www.hallexpostudio.it/eventi/muovere-le-acque/

This month my nose was actively involved in two exhibitions in Italy. This will be the first blog post of two. Scent trip number one is Milan.

Milan, Italy's business capital and one of the world's design capitals, is experiencing a major urban transformation as the city prepares itself to host the Universal Exposition EXPO 2015, where the theme is "Feeding the planet, Energy for life".

Scent has recently been featured as a language to talk about such change at "Muovere le Acque", an independent art and architecture exhibition organised in the Rho area, now a working site turning, in less than an year, into the EXPO 2015 area.


The Italian expression "Muovere le acque" literally meaning "moving waters", translates into English as "rocking the boat", where movement is understood as "a positive and propositional attitude shared by the whole community." 

7 artists were invited to create works on elements such as water and greenery, themes at the core of recent debates on urban transformation. "Muovere le acque" also featured an exhibition about "water architect" Giulio Minoletti and a "garden-therapy" section.



Amongst the art installations, "Water House", an installation by Italian artist Isabella Mara, which I helped in the making, with an Air Sculpture® kindly made by Scent Composer and Master Perfumer Christophe Laudamiel


WaterHouse is an environment-work, awakening the memory of the sea through the senses of smell and that of sound, which have been installed in a caravan. In this "moving home",  home is intended as a state of mind, as the combination of dreams, thoughts and experiences which are part of us, which we encounter traveling, ultimately as a moment for meeting and sharing with others. 


Surrounded by a "sensory sea shell", inside WaterHouse visitors share their memory, suggesting that a shared memory, even when designed, is a meeting space. 

Isabella and I. Photo by Ylbert Durishti

WaterHouse by Isabella Mara
Air Sculpture® by Christophe Laudamiel DreamAir New York
Production Nicola Pozzani, Fragrance Lecturer, Kingston University London / Bern University of the Arts.
Exhibition curated by Alessandra Alliata Nobili









Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE ART OF LIGHT AND SCENT


“Light and scent are the most elementary and most emotional phenomena of our culture”

One of the most innovative art shows I have ever seen has opened at Mianki art gallery in Berlin. “Emotions” brings the visual and olfactory aesthetics of photo painter Jakob Kupfer and that of scent artist Christophe Laudamiel together for the very first time. 


Directed by Andreas Hermann, Mianki is an art gallery showcasing the work of artists who have a peculiar use of material. Introducing art work made of light and scent, both immaterial, “Emotions” encourages visitors to experience art through the dual sensory modality of sight and smell together, provoking absolutely new, “private perceptions” in visitors. 


The work of Kupfer and Laudamiel finds common ground in the evanescent and ever-changing nature of light and scent and the kaleidoscope of emotions they generate. What’s more, with the introduction of specific objects carrying scent, this exhibition helps defining the way in which this media is effectively shown and sold as art piece. 


This unmissable show is on until 19 April 2014 in Berlin Schoeneberg, with a Kuenstlergespraech (talk) taking place on 5 April at 17,00 hrs. Find more here.  Foto: Fuercho GmbH

Saturday, 8 February 2014

SENSING SPACES

 

Sensing Spaces, a beautiful, “sense-provoking” architecture exhibition, is on at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Consisting of 8 installations put together by some of the world’s leading architects in the RA galleries, it encourages the sensory exploration of space. A must-see for all I’d say.

What I experienced…


Interaction.
I have been welcomed to interact with space and people. We were invited to mould space with colours as we liked, in the installation where architecture is intended as a space for the community.

Looking for directions.
I got lost in enlightened wooden maze to then find myself contemplating the experience of space as defined by the sound of my steps.

Climbing for details.
Shifting sensations as the exhibition progressed, I “climbed” a “wooden” monument which put me in contact with the otherwise unexplored Neoclassical details of the gallery. Going up and down the monument making me also contemplate the greatness of the space and its relationship with time.

Uncertainty.
Or at least this is what I felt. Probably my favourite installation. Created with a clever combination of (what looked like) concrete and light, it made me feel “trapped” underground, reliant on destiny and its changes. It reminded me of the electric sounds of Alva Noto, of metallic, wet, underground smells.

The scent of Japanese aesthetics.
Marvellously put together, the shape and smell of imbued bamboo has raised my awareness of the invisible architectures found in a traditional Japanese space.

For more on space and senses, check posts on Invisible Architecture book, the smell of knowledge and Design With Scents course.

God bless architects!


 




Sunday, 26 January 2014

BEAUTY AND ART 001


It is fascinating how much the world of beauty, as in cosmetics, is always searching for new interpretations, aesthetics and solutions to make us feel “beautiful”, allegedly answering our own quest for beauty. Tonight I went to an inspiring evening of beauty and art, presented by Asian story-tellers. 

It was the launch of 001 (Double Zero One) beauty brand by Ada Ooi, who I met at Design With Scents 2013. A trained beauty therapist / aromatherapist and advertising strategist all together, Ada has that typical determination and energy which I found in Hong Kong women. 

To launch 001 Ada staged a beautiful installation in Soho, London, where we experienced her innovative range, designed to “return skin to a natural equilibrium” through works of contemporary Asian artists, who produced different pieces, interpreting her products.


Korean Olfactory artist Kyung Park (and another Design With Scents participant) was given the “Intensive Elixir”, a beautifully balanced blend of Sandalwood, Myrrh and other essential oils, as an inspiration. Kyung produced 31 seconds, an animation portrait of a virtual place, aiming to represent the similarity she found between the scent-making and painting processes.

Artist Rudy Chan Lam, a self-thought illustrator, focused on lavender with an ink on paper work, exploring the multifunctional use of lavender throughout history, from King Charles of France’s lavender cushions to the story of Rene Gattefosse, one of the founders of modern aromatherapy.



A miniature model by Taiwan-based artist Melissa Lin Ching-I depicted the adventures of the 001  team interacting with people and cultures as they searched for the right ingredients. “Miniature art requires you to look into the piece and discover new things”, says Ada, in line with Confucius’ quote appearing on 001 products: “Everything has a beauty, but not everyone sees it”.

The installation also included a small Tea Room, where a Japanese lady invited us to the appreciation of Green Tea and its ceremony, this ingredient being key in one of 001 products. It was in the silence, taste and gestures of the Japanese ritual that I saw a sense of beauty and art.


This dialogue between cosmetics and art was really enjoyable to experience. It nourished my skin and my spirit. Thank you to Ada and her team for suggesting a new way to feel beautiful. Perhaps this is what the future of beauty is about.

 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

HYOI'S FABRICS


Last year at Design With Scents I met Hyoi Kim, a very talented Korean student who explores the relationship between textiles and scents. Today I had the pleasure to see her interesting MA project which she is doing at the MA Textile Print of the Royal College of Art.

The project is about translating scent into textiles. Hyoi has created an experimental series of fabrics inspired by perfume making, giving a visual and tactile interpretation of the so-called gourmand and aldehydes ingredients used in perfumery.

For those in London, I recommend you check this one-of-a-kind textile/scent project, which is being exhibited as part of the RCA School of Material Work-in-progress Student Show until 19 January 2014. Congratulations to Hyoi, keep up the good work!



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