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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Olfactory experience, human connections and co-operative interface

Olfactory experience, human connections and co-operative interface

For this week, I would like to continue the cocktail machine project which I had started it from the first week (http://two.wordpress.test/cocktail-machine.html). I would like this machine to be more immersive and gives new experiences as well as bring social connections between participants. I’ve been looking at the olfactory experience as the smell is one of the most important aspects to enhance a taste of cocktails.

The first project that I looked at is AlcoholicArchitecture by Bompas and Parr. This project offers a new unique experience of enjoying cocktails. They create a breathable cloud-like cocktail in the space where people can inhale or taste the cocktails by their tongue.


(Fig.1 AlcoholicArchitecture by Bompas and Parr)

(Fig2. Scent Drops at Grand Museum of Perfume in Paris by Harvey & John)

The next project, Scent Drops, is in Grand Museum of Perfume in Paris, As you can see from fig.2, Participants will lift off the copper balls which contain natural sources of fragrances like jasmine, orange blossoms and smell the scent of ingredients inside. Following this, participants can listen to the explanation about the particular ingredient from a speaker inside the balls.
(Fig3. collected smells by Smell Lab)
Smell Lab in Berlin has done several projects that experiment on the sense of smell, olfaction in general and fragrance. The first project that they’ve done is collected smells which is the installation made up of sheets of cloth imbued with scents from the surroundings in Berlin, for example, water, soil, cigarette smoke. Then they have participants to smell then describe and try to guess what the smells are and also discuss if the smells remind them of the city.

For the cocktail machine project, there is great potential to integrate olfactory experience and use it as a tool to encourage people to participate and express their preferences which will be a representation of them in the collaboration. To elaborate, there would be twelve or more of beverages. Participants will be able to choose the beverage they like by smelling it then they would control the interface to distribute the ones they like to make a collaborative cocktail together. In this way, participants will feel like they are a part of a collaboration and as the beverages they choose will be a kind of their representation to the collaboration. Therefore, I believe, the outcome which is the collaborative cocktails will give a sense of ownership to them and this might be where we assess the achievement of participation.

From the first week that I had done a simple prototype of a collaborative cocktails machine which aims to see how it can encourage collaboration and social connections between participants. However, from the first experiment, I do feel like there are a lot of things missing and there are a lot of issues that need to be figured out. so I stepped back and gives myself a bit more clear picture what collaboration is in this context and in what ways that we can encourage human connections.

To do so, I looked into Werksatz by Franz Erhard Walther, It is a set of incomplete installations that never truly complete until participants interact with it. Werksatz consists of fabric objects with openings, fastenings or straps that participants could wear and use it together to active incomplete works to be complete. In this work, Walther was interested in exploring the relationships between objects and multi-users or the interrelation of bodies, materials and shared space between bodies.


(Fig.4 Werksatz by Franz Erhard Walther)
I also looked into activities or something that require two people or more to complete the task together, for example, three-legged race, Loren Carpenter’s Pong experiment which a group-controlled game which a group of people has to work together to control a game.

(Fig.5 Loren Carpenter’s Pong experiment)

In fig 6, It is the friendship machine by CocaCola. They designed 3.5-metre tall structure that requires two people to help each other to get two coke bottles for the price of one promo. These projects make me think about the interface that requires two or more people interact with it together. Let’s call it ‘co-operative interface’. To elaborate, two buttons need to be triggered by two people at the same time in order to control something. If just one button is triggered, the system will not work.

(Fig 6. The Friendship Machine by CocaCola)

Cocktail machine

I see possibilities to integrate the idea of having participants to be a part of the system to complete the installation, together with providing them with a co-operative interface where the discussion between participants arises to make a decision collaboratively.

For the next step, I have following questions that will be a starting point and guideline for me to go for a further design.

// How can co-operative mixology experiences encourage human connections and group immersive experiences?

// How do people get involved in the cocktails machine?

// How do people collaborate or work together?

// How do we assess human connections?

// How do they know that they have control or be a part of the system?

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