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‘Boutique’ by Niklas Roy is a project based on concept of synesthesia.:Berlin-based designer Niklas Roy helps create a breakthrough creative project that assimilates colours and smell.

Designer Niklas Roy at the workshop

Bouquet consists of a cone-shaped instrument which has an inbuilt optical sensor on its tip that allows it to recognise different colors.

There is a stepper motor (controlled by SparkFun EasyDriver) disc that’s been placed inside the cone’s bottom that rotates swatches with different scents.

When pointed towards a particular colour, the disc rotates and radiates a corresponding smell – colour red, for example, gets paired with the smell of strawberries.

WIP at the workshop

The students also created a series of vibrant posters to complete the project.

The colour-to-smell translator ‘Bouquet’ has become an important step in this direction. Niklas believes that smell has a tremendous potential for AR/VR applications, and the proof of that is that many such AR/VR smell devices already exist, as a quick Google search would shows- https://goo.gl/s6ooKr.

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Lab 19 Jun 2017

Sensory Experiences: ‘Boutique’ by Niklas Roy; an experimental colour-to-smell translator

At a recent workshop called ‘Communication Devices’ he conducted, Berlin-based designer Niklas Roy helped create a breakthrough creative project that assimilates colours and smell. At the workshop that was held at ECAL in Lausanne, Switzerland, Niklas and the student participants - Erika Marthins, Arthur Moscatelli, Pietro Alberti and Andrea Ramìrez Aburto – came up with ‘Bouquet’ which is basically a colour-to-smell translator.

‘Boutique’ by Niklas Roy is a project based on concept of synesthesia.:Berlin-based designer Niklas Roy helps create a breakthrough creative project that assimilates colours and smell.

Bouquet consists of a cone-shaped instrument which has an inbuilt optical sensor on its tip that allows it to recognise different colors. There is a stepper motor (controlled by SparkFun EasyDriver) disc that’s been placed inside the cone’s bottom that rotates swatches with different scents. When pointed towards a particular colour, the disc rotates and radiates a corresponding smell – colour red, for example, gets paired with the smell of strawberries. The students also created a series of vibrant posters to complete the project. The entire model is based on the concept of synesthesia – “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.”

Designer Niklas Roy at the workshop

Bouquet consists of a cone-shaped instrument which has an inbuilt optical sensor on its tip that allows it to recognise different colors.

There is a stepper motor (controlled by SparkFun EasyDriver) disc that’s been placed inside the cone’s bottom that rotates swatches with different scents.

When pointed towards a particular colour, the disc rotates and radiates a corresponding smell – colour red, for example, gets paired with the smell of strawberries.

Talking about the challenges during the conception and creation of this project, Niklas said, "The main topic in our workshop was to come up with new communication devices and we approached that topic quite openly. We quickly realised though that it is very hard to come up with new communication hardware which could not be simply built as an app running on a smartphone. The realm of smell was one of the few ones which we cannot simply address with software running on a smartphone, as they are lacking the hardware to perceive and produce olfactory sensations."

WIP at the workshop

The entire model is based on the concept of synesthesia – “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.”

Overcoming this challenge, of course, has resulted in a great experiment and a prototype. Scent has a lot of unexplored potential which the creative industries have been gradually exploring. In the art world, for example, many such projects have been conceptualised and created. Artist Anicka Yi, for example, has worked with biologists, forensic scientists and perfumers to create projects that bring together visual arts with smells. Famous Norwegian artist, chemist and smell expert Sissel Tolas has also worked a lot in this direction. Last year, commissioned by the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, she created installations that could capture various particular smells and create an olfactory experience for the viewers. You can read about the project in detail on the Smithsonian magazine.

The students also created a series of vibrant posters to complete the project.


The colour-to-smell translator ‘Bouquet’ has become an important step in this direction. Niklas believes that smell has a tremendous potential for AR/VR applications, and the proof of that is that many such AR/VR smell devices already exist, as a quick Google search would shows- https://goo.gl/s6ooKr. Most of these are just experiments right now though, but we will hopefully see some concrete breakthroughs soon.

The colour-to-smell translator ‘Bouquet’ has become an important step in this direction. Niklas believes that smell has a tremendous potential for AR/VR applications, and the proof of that is that many such AR/VR smell devices already exist, as a quick Google search would shows- https://goo.gl/s6ooKr.