We can choose to close our eyes to stop seeing; close our mouths to stop tasting; we can even block our ears and stop hearing; but block your nose… and you stop breathing. We smell with every breath.

Smell has been described as our most primitive sense and the one that has the strongest link to our memory. Our olfactory receptors are directly linked to the limbic system, the part of the brain that deals with emotions. Smells get recorded in our long term memory, creating strong links to our memories and long-lasting impressions.

But what role does smell play in our perception of places, and in the design of spaces?

We’ve run a little experiment at OOBE: 12 smells, 4 people, what can we smell and recognize, and what memories do the smells bring?

Here are a few examples of what we’ve come up with:

Burnt wood – ‘sitting in a living room by the fire’ ‘bonfire’ ‘camping

Coffee – ‘very tasty’ ‘train station’ ‘Sunday mornings’ ‘sweets’

Sea shore – ‘cheap aftershave’, ‘old damp things’

Now we are in the lookout for an OOBE smell! What does OOBE smell off?

Watch this space for some more smell talk over the coming months!