Smell and the City

Urban smell enthusiasts

Call for Contributions from Professionals, Academics and Practitioners: CREATING WITH SMELL (BOOK)


Image: Smoke Cloud © Peter De Cupere





To download a PDF of the Call for Proposals click here.

The sense of smell has over many years been undervalued and frequently ignored by design, built environment, artistic and communication disciplines amongst many others; deemed of most relevance within the scientific realms of food and beverage development, with an artistic imaginary in the commercial perfume sector, and in relation to planting within landscape architecture. However, times are changing and with new knowledge emerging on how this elusive sense operates and increasingly sophisticated technologies and new techniques being developed, smell is being incorporated into design, artistic, environmental and commercial practices ranging from print to on-street advertising, experiential events to artistic installations, and in architectural and urban design.

Following the recent organisation of a colloquium on this topic at the Design Principles and Practices conference in Vancouver, Canada, this international call goes out across professions and disciplines (and extending to artists, engineers, perfume houses, and government officers amongst others) to search out different forms of contributions, with the intention of producing a new edited book. The book will be the first of its kind published in the English language, in both inspiring its readers to more actively consider smell in their work through the inclusion of numerous case studies from around the world highlighting the current use of smell in different cutting-edge design and artistic practices, whilst also providing practical guidance regarding the different equipment, techniques, stages and challenges which might be encountered as part of the process. Rather than being a book with a focus on product design, the focus here will be on spatial design but in numerous different forms and interpretations – in the street, the studio, the theatre or exhibition space as well as the representation of spatial relationships with smell. If you are working in or with smell in spatial design then this will be a key publication to be included within.


This book seeks to bring together contributions from people with vastly different skill sets and perspectives and therefore it is recognised that the input people will want, or be prepared to make, will vary significantly. For this reason, this call welcomes different types of contributions:

  • Proposals for book chapters – these should be submitted in the form of a title and short abstract of (150-200 words) outlining the content of the proposed chapter and approximate length (anywhere between 1500-5000 words), and accompanied by the author name(s), title, discipline/profession, affiliation and contact details (email and telephone at this stage). The abstract contents might take the form of particular case studies outlining example(s) of smell being used as a partial or primary factor within the design process, or seek to deal with some of those issues outlined in the list of topics outlined below.
  • Suggested case studies – you might not wish to write something specifically for the proposed book, but might be willing to provide information regarding a particular product of piece of equipment or be interviewed for a case study falling within those areas outlined in the list of suggested topics below. If so, please submit brief details regarding the suggested case study (up to 200 words), accompanied by a contact name(s), title, discipline/profession, affiliation and contact details (email and telephone).
  • Suggested existing publications, extracts or other such materials – you might wish to suggest existing articles, papers or guidance of use to designers and relating to those areas outlined in the list of topics below, worthy of further and wider publication.


Suggested proposals might explore some of those topics listed below, or may outline case studies of specific example of design which relate to those areas outlined below. NOTE, this list is not exhaustive and additional ideas are welcomed, although these should relate to smell and spatial design in some way:

  • New and emerging smell releasing/controlling technologies – low and high tech e.g. diffusion, ventilation and other such systems aimed at diffusing and/or controlling the emission, concentration and diffusion of smells. How do the technologies compare, what are their strengths and weaknesses? What criteria might the discerning user or buyer consider?
  • What technologies are available for measuring or capturing smells? How do these work, what industries are they used in and what factors/aspects of smell do they measure? How do they compare against the use of the human sense of smell? How do these technologies compare against one another? How are the technologies being used in different places around the world?
  • The development of smells – How and even why might project briefs or smell specifications be developed? What options are there when selecting smells – should these be sourced off the shelf, from perfume houses, intermediaries or mixed specifically? What advice do you have for people in dealing with the different suppliers and in sourcing appropriate materials and expertise? What do suppliers such as perfume houses want in terms of guidance from designers? What issues are faced in copyrighting or protecting smells? How do these vary around the world?
  • What different techniques might designers use when planning and communicating their intentions for smell considerations within design? For example, how might they describe their intentions – is there a specific vocabulary for the smells themselves, or the intended effects when releasing or dispersing odours that might be used? Can these smells or release effects be sketched or modelled? Are some of these techniques more appropriate for some fields of design than others? How do these compare?
  • What challenges are faced once released or designed smells are detected by people? How might we deal with issues and perceptions of chemical sensitivity? How do guidelines regarding ingredients and their emission into environments differ between countries? How do we respond to consumer fears of manipulation? Are such fears justified?
  • How might we evaluate and evidence the impact of olfactory design upon consumer and public perceptions of the overall environment, atmosphere, production or event being designed?


To have your chapter abstract, case study or suggestions considered for inclusion in the book proposal, please email an abstract to Victoria Henshaw at the University of Sheffield anytime up to 5pm (GMT) on Friday 11 April 2014.

All contributions will be dealt with in strict confidentiality, and each will be considered fairly and equitably, although it is important to note there is no guarantee of inclusion. All submitters will receive an initial response no later than the end of May 2014. At that point, a suitable international publisher will be sought and it is anticipated that all book chapters should be received in full by an approximate date in early Spring 2015 (further details will be sent to all contributors as the process develops). All chapters will be subject to peer review with editorial suggestions passed back to contributors for amendment.

For any enquiries regarding this call, please contact Victoria Henshaw

Image: Smoke Cloud, at ‘The Art of Smelling’ Olfactory Art Research’ (Solo Exhibition). Reproduced with kind permission of Peter De Cupere


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This entry was posted on February 24, 2014 by in Smell and the City Project.
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