The Noseless Society:

(Re)Awakening the Primitive Sense

Andrea Mammarella
The Noseless Society: (Re)Awakening the Primitive Sense is a speculative 'smellable' installation that, as a corrective treatment, aims at re-establishing the endangered, primitive nature of desensitised individuals, members of a smell-emotion-impaired society.

To limit the gradual damage of pollution-induced mass smell blindness, participants are invited to experience their own bodies, senses, and emotions through an olfactory journey that takes place in an imaginary future sensorial archive. In this setup, plaster moulds carefully preserve treasured samples of 'ancient’, fragrant, pheromonal materials. Through one drop of their precious essence, smellers are transported into a suspended atmosphere where sight, touch, and hearing follow the leading ancestral, sensual steps of olfaction. By designing experiences as a corrective therapy for a 'noseless' society, I question the invasive role of industry on our bodies and lives.

During my research I engaged with sci-fi writing to explore the dystopian reality that is not so far from the now. With this project, I intend to shed light on the actuality of a worrying series of sensorial, emotional, and relational disabilities that are affecting us in our capitalistic, highly polluted, synthetically fragranced societies. In this regard, understanding the relevance of olfaction as an intangible yet experiential – emotionally, socially, sexually – sense has been a focal point for my exploration and the discovery of the nose-memory-emotion paradigm as the starting point of my invisible journey.

Throughout my (re)search, I have been focusing on the underestimated importance of olfaction in shaping the nature of our emotional relationships while getting closer to a practice of ‘industrially designing emotions'. This involves envisioning a sensorial therapy for individuals in the industrialised world who have been alienated from their corporeal and innate ways of being.

Indeed, the prevalence of synthetic fragrances and the increasing levels of pollution-induced olfactory dysfunctions urged me to draw attention to the detrimental consequences of careless individual behaviours within capitalistic and highly polluting societies.

For this reason, by designing the absurd and the invisible, through seductive scents and captivating stories, I aim to use speculative industrial design as a catalyst for reflection.