New York
San Francisco

3131 Western Ave
Suite 501
Seattle, WA   98121

t 206.674.7808


360 Riverside Drive
Suite 7D
New York, NY   10025

t 212.924.7331


t 206.674.7864
m 925.212.0140


The Design Associates

t 03-3404-0328


GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | Seattle

GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | New York

The Design Associates | Tokyo

Spice, Perfume, Taste, Scent and Strategic Design

The Craft of
Making Senses

In the spirit of sensate journey,
being out there,
I was digging around in
the basement of an old building in NYC,
down south, Soho way.

Late 1800s —
a subway nexus, just off Houston.

While I was there, looking for stories, things happened.
Dust rose in the still air, you could see the motes, floating like snowflakes — there was a series of notes — fragrances that wafted in the place.
I smelled salt, iron, dust, old wood, creosote, concrete and cracked stone.
From there,
another sensate journeying —
I was listening to some music — in a garage loft space —
it was a hard place, sounds echoed and ricocheted off the concrete,
and the hard floors.
There, low notes boomed,
tinny high melodies screeched and
clawed through the place,
woodwinds waffled intonations —
through the midsection of the aural range.
What that speaks to is layers.

Those meditations reminded me of two working sessions.

In designing sensate experience,
any practitioner would first need to comprehend out how
it works,
better still:
they can act on the instincts of defining
how experiencers sense holism —
designing: an experiential designer,
will know the layers of sensation.

Practice in play.

How about this synaesthetic triad?
Mix it up – scent, spice, music, design.
One, perfume; two, flavor.
Three, music.

When I was in Parma,
I met this woman, a nose,
fragrance designer Laura Tonnato
I was traveling with a group
exploring Italian perfume design initiatives.

The Mark of the Morris Profumi | the site of Tonnato’s workshop, Parma, Italia
Spice, Perfume, Taste, Scent and Strategic Design

What Laura offered was a personal fragrance development exploratory, examining the notes of a personal perfume. In a strategy of perfume design, it comes, too, to layering —
the top, the opening, —
the first tier of fragrance that strikes the experience of the scantier? Middle, low? What would these successions be?
Designing a perfume,
there is a strategy of the staggering,
the sequencing, the procession of notes
— fragrant touches —
that lead the scent-experiencer on a journey,
and indeed one that could be linked to
that person, their body, mind and nose, individually.
There is an opening statement —
the beginning perfumed hit that might define the core storytelling; oud, jasmine, vetiver;
then the middle sequence, a scent that might carry the loft
of the opening vapor stamp; and the finish.

Like dragon’s blood,
there is a story to be told.
A designer,
a nose,
an artist,
tell it.

Spice, Perfume, Taste, Scent and Strategic Design

That design process reminds me of another craft —
how would you design
the strategy of a spice,
applied to a product?

In another workshop, we walked that world
how to explore the idea of a spice, a flavoring sequence, a note at the top, the next flavored insinuation, the grounding finish and the aftertaste. In the mouth — how, what is the feel. Like a perfume — a string of designed tonalities to the nature of the flavoring.
Spice, of course, once the most important asset of commerce in the ancient world — a trans-world economic pathway halfway across the world.

What about music? The string of notes — the boom of an low-opening, the tinkling of a high melodic stringing, a toning of mid-ranged, all about layers?

What then, about space — the designing of places?
Could architecture and the design of places be studied in the potential of layering,
the staggering of the journey?

In every step
a story told
as a journeyer makes
their way:

Spice, Perfume, Taste, Scent and Strategic Design

Spice, Perfume, Taste, Scent and Strategic Design

Spice, Perfume, Taste, Scent and Strategic Design

It’s always about what is on the surface, what is sensed in the closest encounter,
what could be found in the periphery
and what lies beneath.

The journey
will always be something of a map — that has
a story within, and re-scribed, over and over,
many times.

Many times.
Until you have the chance to see and learn the story,
and your experience of the interplay of sensations.

Wake up, that journey
and the lively dance of the sense, all ’round you.

The Awakening of Adonis,
John Waterhouse.

Spice, Perfume, Taste, Scent and Strategic Design

TIM | Salem OR