Image Credit : Philipp Emrich and Henrik Kam



Project Overview

A handmade ceramic vase that displays the beauty of a flower through scent. The scent vase challenges the archetype of a vase and results in a product that helps its user to take a quick refreshing break from the daily routine. The Scent Vase is part of the exhibition „Living with Scents” at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco.

Project Commissioner

Museum of Craft & Design, San Francisco

Project Creator

Philipp Emrich

Project Brief

Research on olfaction shows how powerful the impact of scents can be on regulating our emotions. Humans can differentiate between 400.000 smells and like all sensory impressions, emotional values are being assigned through the perception and evaluation of our experiences. Our sense of smell is so powerful due to the direct and unfiltered connection of the olfactory tract to the limbic system, especially the amygdala – our emotional processor and hard drive.

The general behaviour of people smalling holds a pattern: the neck is usually bent downwards and the nose and the upper lip form a dip where the object that is being smelled is inserted. The name for this behaviour is „active smelling“.

Project Innovation/Need

Active smelling means that the user consciously picks up a source of scent, and breathes in strongly - this increases the number of scent molecules entering the nasal cavity from 2% to 20%. The Scent Vase formally invites active smelling.

Ceramics as a material was chosen due to its tactile and visual properties.
Soft, rounded forms address the well-being aspect of the design.

The design is an abstraction of the anatomy of a flower; the bowl at the top resembles the calyx, the neck and the body the stem while the scent intake reminds of a leaf.

Essential oils work as the scent carrier that can be filled into the vase as they contain psychoactive chemical compounds as a result of the distillation process from organic materials.

The scent vase tries to tackle the concept of a vase as a medium to display the visual beauty of a plant. The geometry is scaled in such a way, that the vase can be placed anywhere in the house and easily picked up with one hand. The conical form prevents the volatile essential oil to escape too quickly.

All vases are handmade through slip casting.

This award celebrates creativity and innovation for either a product design at conceptual stage - an early sample or model of a product that has not reached the manufacture stage nor available to the market.
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