Follow by Email

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fragrant Time (a Smell-Clock)...

An illustration showing the 'generic fragrance' sections of a Fragrant Time/ Smell Clock sequence...

Regardless if one considers the Fragrant Time design a 'hot off the press' or 'still in process' project, it has provided a somewhat more playful, jovial and folly-esque means for exploring a topic which has interested me for a while. Our olfactory (smell) sense remains still a mystery for most architects and designers, who usually do not include the fragrance of something amongst the pantheon of considerations that define a design. This is a somewhat unfortunate omission, as our sense of smell is probably the shortest link and most direct way to reach and manipulate our more emotive core, the subconscious level where most of our decisions are actually made. Fill a house with the aroma of newly baked bread, and a residence will instantly transform itself from a mere dwelling into an amiable home. Control the way you feel with fragrances - use the smell of coffee to wake you up, lavender to relax yourself, eucalyptus to revitalize and sharpen a fatigued mind, and perhaps various bodily odors to repel someone... My wife actually thinks, for better or worse, that the way I smell, naturally, is amongst my most attractive qualities (if ones looks, occasionally, deteriorate with age, what happens to ones fragrance?)...

The 'quarter past', 'half past' and 'quarter til' fragrances...

The Fragrant Time design uses smell as the medium through which time can be told. The core premise is straightforward - take an incense-stick that burns at a regular speed, test and measure out the correlation between the length and speed at which it burns (i.e. how long a stretch of the stick is needed for, say, a ten minute burn?) and segment a select number of such incense fragrances into consecutive sequences and lengths according to preference.

Breakdown of the design's key components...

In the included example five different fragrances were used. Firstly a generic smell - this neutral smell (perhaps a base smell such as vanilla or musk) defined the 'in-between' segments that mostly last for 10 minutes, located (timed) between the protagonist scents. Secondly, the quarter past smell (patchouli?!), which would begin 15 minutes into the fragrant sequence and last (burn) for 5 minutes. The third olfactory emanation is the half-past smell (a citrus or rose-essence...), which indicates that the incense has been burning for half an hour. The fourth distinctive fragrance is the quarter till smell (sandalwood or lavender) which, as the name might insinuate, begins at quarter hour before a full hour and switches back into the generic smell at ten minutes till the full hour... The full hour smell (a subtle bukhoor) is the final fragrance of the set. It indicated that an hour has been concluded...

A shaped rendition of a Fragrant Time incense 'clock'...

The shape of the Fragrant Time design can also be altered, perhaps to provide a visual reference to reflect and amplify the olfactory bulletins. This could be done by, say, shaping a hours worth of incense into a circular loop, which would facilitate the reading of the time passed. Such one hour portions could then, in turn, be segmented into individually shaped pieces which then could be combined to form a set of bespoke renditions of the (Fragrant Time) Smell Clock, which, at the beginning of the day, would need lighting instead of winding...

Stretches of incense can be divided into one hour lengths, which can be assembled into a variety of compositions...

It smells like a quarter past eventide - time to retire...

No comments: