Object

Scent Vase

Scent Vase

A handmade ceramic vase that displays the beauty of a flower through scent. The scent vase challenges the archetype of a vase and results in a product that helps its user to take a quick refreshing break from the daily routine. The Scent Vase is part of the exhibition „Living with Scents” at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco. It also won a Silver Berlin Design Award 2022.

Research on olfaction shows how powerful the impact of scents can be on regulating our emotions. Humans can differentiale between 400.000 smells and like to all sensory impressions, emotional values are being assigned through the perception and evaluation of our experiences. Our sense of smell is so powerful due to the direct and un-filtered connection of the olfactory tract to the limbic system, especially the amygdala – our emotional processor and hard drive.
During a self-initiated 10 weeks research project, I worked together with a focus group of international students who face emotional destabilisation due to relocation and the lack of a social support network. My goal was to investigate the connection of scents and emotion and wether sensory stimuli would be of aid to the target group. Working with students and experts, I discovered that scents indeed can have a great effect on the temporary well-being.
To facilitate an intimate interaction with scents, I looked at the concept of "active smelling". Active smelling means that the user consciously picks up a source of scent and breathes in strongly - this increases the amount of scent molecules entering the nasal cavity from 2% to 20%.

The general behaviour of people smelling holds a pattern: the neck is usually bent downwards and the nose and the upper lip form a dip where the object that is being smelled is inserted. I designed the Scent Vase around that behavior.
The design of the vase is an abstraction of the anatomy of a flower; the bowl at the top resembles the calyx, the neck and the body the stem while the scent intake reminds of a leaf.

Essential oils work as the scent carrier that can be filled into the vase. The scent vase tries to challenge the concept of a vase as a medium to display the visual beauty of a plant. The geometry is scaled in such a way, that the vase can be placed anywhere in the house and easily picked up with one hand. The conical form prevents the volatile essential oil to escape too quickly.
All vases are handmade through slip casting. Ceramics as a material was chosen due to its tactile and visual properties. Soft, rounded forms address the well-being aspect of the design.

Living With Scents, 2022, Museum of Craft and Design. Image courtesy of Henrik Kam.

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