An interior architect has to design for the nose too!

A good interior architect designs a holistic experience for all the five senses. Though visual sense plays a far dominant role, the other sensory experiences do their bit to create an experience that the designers visualizes.

As a child my earliest olfactory sense, has been that of an incense stick lit inside one of the shops I used to pass by on my way to school. Even today when i get a whiff of a fragrance that is remotely similar, my pace slows down and I time travel into nostalgia of those innocent days gone by.

A good interior architect knows how to harness such a strong sensory power to help conjure up the experiences that he envisages. Just like the color theory and proportions, there is a huge science that is involved into the study of aroma and I would like to share a few tips and insights that I use on my premium projects to create my signature Santosh Wadekar look.

For me, aroma specifically helps create the desired effect in these three methods

  1. Associative memory
  2. Physical associations
  3. Metabolic sensations

1. Associative memory

Smells that remind a viewer of some memory in the past. For example a strong smell of antiseptic or Anesthesia can remind someone of a hospital. The memory of a hospital in turn can make one recall a traumatic or a painful event. So many luxury hospitals consciously use fresh floral smells to disguise the smells that may distress its patients.  Hence it is a tool in the kitty of the Interior designer to use this smell to hide the unpleasant feelings or to use this smell to identify and highlight the space as a healthcare hospital.

Another example would be the smell of a perfume used by a friend or a loved one. If that perfume is worn by someone else we immediately recall the memory of the fond time spent or the person we last associated it with.

2. Physical associations.

A fragrance that reminds one of a physical object is the most widely used association in the interior designers kitty. Most commercial establishments, malls, theaters, coffee shops and eateries use these concepts.

For example, a fragrance of fresh corn right outside a movie theater would remind us to buy the popcorn at the food counter during the interval. Similarly a fragrance of ice cream or candy when we are tired after a hectic shopping spree at the mall makes us go searching for the ice cream parlor and helps in picking up sales for the parlor.

There is a huge research that aroma scientists are working on on how certain smells induce certain behaviors. For example a certain smell makes the user feel like eating more or binge eating, or a certain smell may get the user take quick decisions on big spending. Soulflower is one such Mumbai based company that is doing very interesting work in this segment.

3. Metabolic sensations

Like animals primitive man relied on smell for safety and food and mating. This sense still prevails in us. Some fragrances naturally induce the body to carry out certain functions subconsciously and subliminally.

The smell of lavender is used in medicine to calm the nerves. It relaxes the mind and can help think clearly.  Caffeine on the other hand has the capacity to boost metabolism and can help in mood elation and creating excitement. So you see many people frequent coffee shops and meet up others as the aromas help in creating a happy outgoing mood.

So now armed with this knowledge the interior architect has permutations and combinations that can be used to boost the overall ambiance of the space and induce the user to behave in a way that the space has been designed to use.

A grand lobby with refined floral smells designed by Interior Architect Santosh Wadekar
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