An aroma can transport you to another country or another time of your life. It can trigger feelings and memories. Our sense of smell is such a powerful partner to our emotions and yet it is strangely missing from the worlds of art, architecture and design.
While I was London I visited an installation that was part of a building in Dover Street, Mayfair. It was called ‘Colour as a Narrative’ by Italian architect and designer Antonino Cardillo.
It was a 27 square metre space built for the client Illuminum Fragrance. The whole space created a dramatic framing for the fragrances. They were definitely the main event.
The space itself looked like an ancient looking grey grotto where the walls were rough and textured. There was some light coming in from the street.
Pozzolanic Ash was used to create the plaster in the walls. It was bought from the volcano Vesuvius in Naples all the way to London. This mineral dust was used in ancient Roman buildings including the Pantheon in Rome.
From the ceiling there were thirty-seven hand blown glass bottles each suspended by a fine black cord.
Each bottle had a different scent inside. Visitors were encouraged to remove the cork and take in the aroma from each bottle. This part of the installation was called ‘Scent Suspended’.
I found it quite an exciting sensory experience. I think we are so used to taking in experiences visually. This was something new. The stark ancient quality of the space seemed to intensify the experience of smelling the different fragrances.
In his work, Cardillo sets out to “transcend the ordinary”. I think he certainly achieved that with his fascinating work “Colour as a Narrative.“