projects | hello. who do i smell like? {ny}

brooklyn bridge | new york | ny

An afternoon of smelling people… how peculiar! If the act of smelling is so intimate, are people willing to cross that line of personal space to smell another? What are their perceptions of the smell and do they vary according to the physical identity of the one that smells? How do they define their smell?

Monday, September 07th, 2009.
Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY.
target group
20–35 year old urban dwellers. {Approximately 35 responses.}
experiment participants
Caucasian & Asian couples with yellow scented t-shirts—the women were perfumed with Vanilla Ice Cream {Floral/Oriental} and the men were perfumed with Leather {Woody/Fresh}. {The Library of Fragrance.}
experiment structure
The 'scented' participants strolled through the Brooklyn Bridge and interacted with the public. Questions asked: ‘who do I smell like?’, ‘what does that smell say about me?’ & 'what do you think you smell like?'

•The public, both men & women, were not very receptive. {50% avoided us, 25% were approachable—mostly women, 25% approached us because of the bright t-shirts.}
•They were only comfortable in smelling the wrists of the experiment participants.
•Physical characteristic evoked different responses of the same scent; memories of people in their past.
Caucasian Man Manly, clean, fresh; perceived as natural, masculine.
Asian Man Manly, sweet; perceived as natural, trendy, creative.
Caucasian Woman Vanilla, sweet; perceived as feminine, natural, domesticated.
Asian Woman Vanilla, beachy; perceived as outdoorsy, beachy, sweet.
•Great difficulty in expressing their perception of their smell—most responses were natural, clean, dirty and a mixture of consumer products.
•Smells were not consciously considered within their everyday lives.
•The act of smelling socially is cultural—Asians were more apprehensive than Caucasians.
•Uncontrolled Factors: diet, skin type {intensity of fragrance}, physical demeanour, humidity & temperature.

A big thanks to Amanda, Ray, Kendra & Cesar for their enthusiasm and participation!
Please click the thumbnails below to view the experiment…