CrossLab — Sensory Shopping

Investigating the power of senses, shopping and new media

Archive for the ‘smell’ Category

Oranges in Rotterdam

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on February 22, 2008


Yesterday while I was on the train to Amsterdam, I read this article about how the police are using the smell of oranges to calm the aggresive behaviours of inmates.

Why do I blog this?

This is an interesting use of smell to control behaviour of people without them knowing. The article is good because it also describes the disadvantages of using this technique too much.  Conditioning can occur if the odor begins to create a strong, and known, association.  Such a strategy could easily backfire then, since the smell of orange, if used too much, will start to become a signal for police stations, or cells, and possibly cause the opposite reaction intended…one of violence and heightened aggression.


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First week (belated)

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on February 18, 2008

Sensory shopping started last week, Feb 12th, at Willem de Kooning Art Academy in Rotterdam. Unfortunately, as the new guest lecturer, I could not be there, I had a prior commitment in Dublin speaking at a conference called Love Objects. A great conference, and lots of interesting people, and some very stimulating talks.

But, while I was there, the class had to go on. In place of me, I forwarded a text which I thought was quite interesting as a kickstart. The text was a chapter called Smelling the Brie, from William J. Mitchell’s book Placing Words: Symbols, Space and the City.

Amazon link here:

Thinking about this text myself while I was in Dublin, I ended up getting lost. (I have a habit of wandering while thinking and forgetting to look up.) But, eventually, I realized I had overshot my mark, and was further from my destination than I anticipated. What woke me up was the familiar smell of hops and barley, streaming from a nearby brewery.

Yes, Guinness is all over Dublin. And that’s because it’s home to the icon of Irish Drink. But it wasn’t a deep seated desire for a pint that awoke me directly in front of the gates of Guinness…rather, the smell, permeating through the air. A smell, overwhelmingly powerful and familiar, from a time when I actually worked in a brewery. It fills your nose and pulls at the palette, starting the saliva glands to water, and the feet to shuffle towards the nearest pub you can find. And in Dublin, it’s not hard to find a pub.

Why do I blog this?

As we begin this workshop into the sensory shopping experience, I think it is important to start to analyze how those senses really work. In my Dublin example, we begin to see that smell is powerful, often undervalued, and not completely understood. It has the ability to elicit powerful emotions, love or hate, and it is nearly impossible to control. And it only takes a little bit of odour to fill an entire room (and whisk you off to the pub!)

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