That our sense of smell is low on the sensory agenda is no more apparent than in the way we approach interior design.
We carefully curate the visual identity of each room as we appraise colours, shapes and patterns and how they will work together to create a particular style. We choose fabrics and consider the tactile environment in order to indulge our sense of touch. All of this is influenced by the mood we want to create. How we wish to feel. How we’d like our guests to feel. Yet how often do we consider scent’s role to play in all of this?
In our homes, scent is often an after thought in the form of a scented candle or diffuser, instead of a design aspect that is thoughtfully selected to integrate and harmonise with all the other elements in the space. We live in a world that overloads us with artificial scents, but pays little attention to the impact they have upon us. Sensory design has been an important and effective part of spas, hotels, retail spaces and brand environments for a long time and we work with such clients to create bespoke scents. They want to ensure that the smell of a space is as measured as its décor because they understand that smell is such a key factor in human behaviour.
Smell affects the areas of the brain that deal with emotions, feeling and motivation, so introducing certain scents into a designed space can lead to specific behavioural responses. Smell can have a powerful effect on our experience of an environment, harmonising with the visual design and inducing an emotional response. Some scents can be functional, with a calming or happy effect, or one that helps us to sleep. Others evoke fond memories, encourage us to linger or even to think well of others. Scent can also influence our visual perceptions.
If in your interior design you create a sense of space and airiness, introducing a heavy or cloying scent would juxtapose this and impair the impact that the visual design has. You may however want to close the space in to create a cosier atmosphere, but be aware of the impact you’re creating.
If you have designed a room where you can relax and unwind, although very pleasant, notes such as citrus would have much the opposite effect. Lavender is commonly known for its relaxing properties, but try a fragrance with a note of ylang ylang.
An energising room dressed with vibrant green touches would come to life with a scent that has a correspondingly green fragrance profile. While a scent that is connected to happy memories or feelings of warmth and comfort (which for me is a beautiful log fire!) would be the perfect scent to greet you and your guests when walking through the front door, simultaneously creating a lasting sense of familiarity.
When you choose which home fragrances to use, consider how it will harmonise with its surroundings and ensure it complements the mood that you have worked to create through visual design.