Headspace - a Symposium on Scent as Design

Headspace: a Symposium on Scent as Design

Parsons The New School for Design and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) announced HEADSPACE: A Symposium on Scent as Design, which will take place on Friday, March 26 at Tishman Auditorium at The New School. This daylong event will bring together for the first time leading designers, scholars, scientists, artists, and perfumers to explore this new territory for design. The event marks the establishment of a new MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons.

"We understand the world around us through our senses," said Joel Towers, Dean of Parsons. "Through scent we more fully perceive space, fashion our identities, and navigate the built and natural environments. This is an ideal topic to address as Parsons prepares to launch a new MFA program in Transdisciplinary Design, which will break the boundaries of traditional design to create a new method of collaborative, cross-disciplinary practice."

HEADSPACE brings together panelists including Coty Senior Vice President, American Fragrances, Catherine Walsh and IFF Senior Perfumer Carlos Benaim; Anna Barbera, a Milan-based researcher and author who specializes in the links between built space and aroma; conceptual scent artist Sissel Tolaas; product designer Ayse Birsel; architecture and design critic Sylvia Lavin; neurobiologist Leslie Vosshall, whose pioneering work on olfaction is based on research on fruit flies and mosquitoes; architect Toshiko Mori; designer and researcher Susanna Soares, whose BEE'S project uses these insects as biosensors to detect diseases such as lung cancer, skin cancer and tuberculosis; and Jean-Louis Frechin, a designer exploring hyper-sensoriality.

The program was conceived by Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA; Jamer Hunt, chair of Urban and Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons; and Laetitia Wolff, founder of futureflair. The three will also serve as moderators, together with Adam Bly, founder and CEO of Seed.

"Scent is an exciting realm for design exploration at a time when technology seems to be leading us further away from direct sensory experiences," said Antonelli. "However, new science is exploring the ways in which scent stimulates cognition, memory, and the production of experience. This symposium will generate a dialogue on what this means for designers and architects."

In addition to panel discussions, this immersive and experiential event includes a select group of "accidental perfumers," Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck of Birsel + Seck; Zoe Coombes and David Boira of Commonwealth; Toshiko Mori; Majora Carter; and Marije Vogelzang of the Amsterdam-based design studio Proef. These designers have partnered with IFF perfumers Celine Barel, Yves Cassar, Jean Marc Chaillan, Loc Dong, Pascal Gaurin, Clement Gavarry, Bruno Jovanovic, Laurent Le Guernec to create a series of unique applications for scent in everyday life, beyond fragrance. A film by Jane Nisselson of the company Virtual Beauty will document the designer/perfumer collaborations, and record the extraordinary process of designing a scent.

During the course of the day, New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr will moderate individual dialogues with the accidental perfumers on their scent design as well as on their creative process. In addition, Hunt will unveil the work of a group of students who collaborated with IFF perfumers to create a sensory experience, an interdisciplinary project called "Critical Experiments in the Smell of Space and Time."

"IFF is thrilled to be partnering with Parsons and MoMA on this groundbreaking event," said Veronique Ferval, director of the Creative Center at IFF, the world's leading producer of flavors and fragrances. "One of our priorities is to increase knowledge and foster innovation in our industry, and we are delighted to work with professional designers as well as students to explore new areas of discovery."

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