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ReminiScent – CL Inspired Art

July 2018 by Ella Boston

As a Designer of Experiences, I use play and interactivity to tell stories and create interventions in everyday life. I take an anthropological approach to design and I am fascinated how designed objects and spaces can influence human behaviour and collective consciousness. I am driven by a desire to encourage laughter, vibrance, questions and connectivity. My creativity is a communication platform that allows me to showcase progressive thoughts, actions and views to audiences in a manner which is playful, inclusive and engaging.

My most recent body of work is propelled by collaboration and inspired by the need to tell the story of climate change. For the past 5 months, I have been volunteering with The Carbon Literacy Project (CLP), a charity that is dedicated to educating individuals, communities and industries about our responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint. In response to my CLP training and conversations with the CEO’s of the charity, I developed this ReminiScent project to create awareness of the effects of climate change.

My focus was on food, the lifeline for all living creatures and therefore a very poignant and relatable subject for any audience. My research brought some dark scenarios to light as much loved foods and drinks, such as coffee and chocolate, are at risk of extinction due to rising temperatures, droughts, and lack of appropriate fertile land. These factors of climate change are specifically associated with human activity and therefore the aim of this project is to instil people with a sense of personal responsibility. Humans are very good at adopting the “it won’t happen to me” attitude and therefore are able to ignore the looming threat of significant environmental changes and disaster. In light of this, I wanted to create a social intervention in which people could have a firsthand experience of what it would feel like if they lost their favourite foods; maybe then people would be more conscious of the need to change.

First-hand sensory experiences can be designed to reach anyone regardless of language, culture, age or ability. Smell is a sense closest linked to memory and therefore often triggers an emotional response. It is this emotional response that the project aims to harness in aid of raising awareness about the seriousness of climate change. However, I do not intend my approach to be too heavy-handed or moralising, therefore, the interaction I have designed into the ReminiScent project allows audiences to autonomously explore the link between the smells, the extinct foods and the supporting climate change statistics in a playful and visually intriguing way.

The shopping trolly is an icon of supermarkets and consumerism and therefore acts as a tool to immerse people in the dystopian narrative of a future without food. The majority of the props and objects are made of up-cycled and repurposed materials signalling the project’s core values and roots in sustainability and anti-consumerism. To create the scents, I worked in collaboration with a fine art perfumer Michael Borkowsky. He responded to my research, narrative and designs to create the bespoke smells inspired by the aromas of our most loved potentially long-lost foods and the environment they come from.

The Grad Show opening went better than I could have imagined. People really enjoyed the concept and it seemed to awaken people’s interest in climate change in a more personal and playful way. They were so interested that I ran out of CLP business cards because people wanted to know more about the inspiration behind my project.

The trolley / I also won 3 awards:

– 1 year of mentoring with creative industries Trafford,
– A solo show at Air Gallery, and
– A slot at London New Designers (4th – 7th July).

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