'Headspace' was a symposium convened by Paola Antonelli, and the MoMA, exploring the relationship between Scent and Design. Given the challenge of combining constructed smells with designed objects, we embedded ourselves within the laboratories of global perfume giant, International Flavors and Fragrances, and explored the tools within IFF's Chemical Psychology and MoodMapping departments.
'MoodMapping' in combination with GCMS analysis, is a process by which the chemical structure of various olfactory molecules are mapped to non-olfactory characteristics. For example, limonene, the olfactory molecule that emanates from lemons, is generally understood to signify 'innocence' and 'freshness'.
Normally, perfumers will use these databases to translate intangible feelings, moods, or associations into engineered perfumes. In a reversal of this process, we chose a sufficiently pungent, raw material and subjected this to IFF analysis.
Our chosen material, a 100 year-old piece of old growth Douglas Fir architectural lumber, was described as a list of feelings and associations that became our design brief. The old growth lumber was said to smell masculine, therapeutic, antibacterial, stressed, depressed, gold, pale yellow, overwhelming, brutal, dark, chocolate, bloody and nostalgic- according to the industry standard fragrance analysis databases.
After much consideration, we decided our old-growth material 'wanted to be' or 'smelled like' a Butcher Block- a surface for dissecting animals and all the colors, moods and heavy feelings that entails.
In our response, scent became a way of generating use and form. What emerged from the scent of our beautifully mysterious piece of old growth lumber was this: the Headspace Butcher Block.
Butcher block by Commonwealth