The Power of Scent And Design: An Interview with Amy Radcliffe

The Power of Scent And Design: An Interview with Amy Radcliffe

Posted 27 October 2014 by Angelique Blankson

Every so often at Nirvana, we work tirelessly to bring our motto to life – graphics on any surface. We do this in a process we call Material Boards, where we merge materials and graphics together using a range of different processes and often collaborate with some awesome industry experts to do it. Our next material board is still under wraps but we are very excited to be incorporating the sense of smell thanks to the help of Amy Radcliffe. I was surprised by how often scent is used in design and took the time to ask Amy more about it.

Amy researches trends and concepts for design in relation to scents. Sounds like a cool job, right? But what does smell really mean in design? I always thought design was about the look and feel. My questions about scent led me to writing this blog post and asking Amy to share her knowledge.

What effect does smell have on us? Why does it matter?

Our olfactory sense is the most primal and instinctual of all our senses. It is also the sense that seems to bypass our consciousness to trigger immediate emotional responses. The connection we have with smells are utterly personal and unique.

What’s your experience of working with smell and design?

I’ve mainly worked in design research but have also had concept product design commissions from the likes of Unilever and have worked on interactive and immersive experiences incorporating the senses of smell, touch and taste.

I think a great many more products than you may realise are scented, other than personal care products and fragrances.  Toys for instance, my little pony and play doh. I think brands are also starting to recognise the importance of scent in a broader context and scent branding will become a much bigger market. Also the use of scent and designed environments seems to be becoming very relevant.

How to you choose the right smell for your project?

My work is all about working with the connection between smells and personal memory. So the scents I work with are all about evoking an emotional response whether it be a nostalgic childhood smell or a tropical holiday smell, or even something unsettling. It all depends on the audience and the desired reaction.

Amy Radcliffe has even created her own odour camera using readily available technology (image below). Check out her work on her website here.

Amy Radcliffe Madeliene

Do you have any thoughts about using smell and design together? Maybe you would like to share a smell and design experience with us? Please use the comment box below, we would love to hear your thoughts.