• Trips and Travelers

    • Each city and area host authentic smells, pertaining to their very own lifestyle, the temperature, traditions and culture, Kate McLean is turning these into maps.

    The odour cartography of cities (a guide for olfactory travellers) / 

    British Kate McLean has created Sensory Maps, a project which maps the smells of cities.  To her, different aromas carry cultural information baggage as rich as contemporary society’s most valued sense, sight.

    McLean’s work does not boil down to solely the traditional smells usually associated with different cities; instead it is actually a much more thorough endeavour that resulted in detailed cartographies: each city’s fragrant landscape, divided by zones and sometimes blocks.

    For this entrepreneur, and other activists who value the olfactory experience, each place retains its own and unique smells, whose richness as a cultural patrimony should be preserved. Protecting the smells of cities could become a new variable when it comes to retaining the original experience of each city.

    The fact that the nasal organ connects to the memory and emotional system has been scientifically proven, which to a great extent determines our travelling experiences. Smells are closely related to our mood, and beyond the latter, McLean’s work is all the more interesting because of the complex challenge she imposes on herself: describing and explaining smells.

    It is simple to explain what a tea, for example, smells like, but what does an old building or museum smell of? Smell is something we all experience and live, but that we rarely consciously narrate. Cities are an example of very unique experiences which carry unrepeatable olfactory sensations, an attraction that we all probably know, but which we rarely take into a fully conscious plane because of our cultural predisposition. 

    Also in Sphere: Tracing back our obsession with maps

    Tagged: maps, trips and travelers, cities, inspiration, Kate McLean Sensory Maps, cartography Credits: Images (©Kate McLean Design 2013)