You walk into a room. You notice a certain aroma. You smell fresh cookies baking in the kitchen. Immediately, you remember your childhood days when your mother brought you fresh chocolate chip cookies.
Ok, this may seem a bit idealistic but smell and memory are linked. The article entitled Smell and Memory explains that of all the human senses, the process of smelling takes the longest to reach the brain, and once you do smell, the smell lasts longer than other senses. This leads to the assumption that smell and memory are linked in different ways as compared to the other senses; and yes, this is an important differentiation.
If the latter is true, then when you design, you instantly trigger memory the moment someone walks into your building. You see, memory is intrinsically linked with learning. So, the minute someone actually smells within your space, they begin to learn, and the olfactory process can play a meaningful role.
So, how can you design better now that you know this knowledge?
Perhaps you can be more proactive as you design. Instead of letting the scent within your space just sort of happen as a by-product of all your other design decisions, you can instead think about what effect you want to have with your space.
This doesn’t mean that you need to go ahead and inject strange aromas with hopes that suddenly your design will be more pleasing without proof that this will work. However, did you know that some hospitals are beginning to design for the olfactory sense? Patients in some facilities are already benefiting from aromas (circulated through the air systems) that are more soothing, anxiety reducing and calming.
Think of what you want your occupants to experience within your architectural space, how you want them to navigate though it and where you may want them to stop and engage in activity. As a designer, think about ways to tap into the olfactory sense — use it to spark occupant behavior, thought, emotion and intellect. There are so many opportunities to capitalize on this sense: think hotel, restaurant, stores or even an airport.
Image Credit: © Dianka | Dreamstime.com
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