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Collection by Zachary Edelson

Designing for the Five Senses: Scent and Architecture

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The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.

Scent is usually considered outside of architecture—if not something to be sanitized. Jorge Otero-Pailos placed it center stage when, as part of a 2013 exhibition, he and a perfumer reconstructed historic scents of Philip Johnson’s Glass House: the whiff of its freshly built interiors, the later fragrance of cologne, and the accrued odor of cigarette smoke. As Otero-Pailos puts it: “When you smell something, you remember without trying. That’s incredibly powerful.” He adds that “smell is temporal...We can install odors to punctuate our experience of architecture, and in that sense, help to organize it in time and in space.”

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