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exhibition >  LIVING WITH SCENTS

Odors are perceived with every breath we take and immediately interpreted by the most ancestral parts of our brain. In recent years, researchers and practitioners, from the neurosciences to the humanities, have strived to gain a better understanding of the sense of smell, which deeply, yet often unknowingly, shapes the way we live: our eating habits, our social interactions, our emotions, memories, and even our well-being and safety. Albeit elusive and ephemeral in nature, scents may thus be purposefully used to improve many aspects of our lives. Furthermore, despite its long neglect in the West, smell can also carry cultural, aesthetic, and practical values, as exemplified by a number of ancient and foreign cultures.

In the hands of contemporary designers, whose job it is to consider the interactions of minds, bodies, and things, scents are mediated in innovative ways to raise a form of new sensory awareness. This exhibition will feature about 40 of these designers and artists from all over the world whose work reflects and participates in the growing culturalization of all things olfactory. Working with and around the sense of smell, taking into account its neurobiological, historical, social, and aesthetic specificities, these practitioners attempt to change the way we relate to and interact with the world. Their informed efforts are an incentive to use our nose to observe objects from a different point of view, and conversely to use objects to take advantage and make sense out of smell in novel ways.

The phrase ‘olfactory design’ can refer to a variety of practices that encompass, inter alia, fragrance making, olfactory marketing, stage design, architecture, and even urban planning. The focus of Living with scents will be on objects, not just scented products, but creative and artful interfaces to deliver scents with manifold design outcomes, from the hedonic to the functional. On display will be an unprecedented collection of useful, meaningful, and beautiful olfactory objects to be discovered through both the eyes and the nose.



Guest Curators:
Elisabetta Pisu
Clara Muller

The exhibition is an IMF Foundation production in collaboration with the EP Studio. This program is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York. Additional support for Living with Scents is provided by NEZ Media and Ritual Coffee Roasters.



Elisabetta Pisu is a design curator with training in Sociology and Cultural Management. She has specialized in contemporary design, with a special focus on the production process, social significance, and the evolution of new expressive languages. Objects, environments, and architectures are her main interests, as she investigates the changing role of design in contemporary society. In 2016 she founded EP studio to work on the conception, curatorship, and organization of international design exhibitions. She has collaborated with renowned institutions and has curated exhibitions for prestigious design museums such as Design Museum Gent (Belgium), Cube Design Museum (Netherlands), Design Museum Holon (Israel), Museum of Craft and Design (San Francisco, USA), MODA Museum of Design Atlanta (Atlanta, USA), Tianjin International Design Week (China), L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art (Israel).

Clara Muller is a French curator and art historian pursuing scholarly research on the politics of breathing in contemporary art, and the diversity of art practices using scent as a medium. She has contributed to a number of publications on the subject, such as Les Dispositifs olfactifs au musée (Nez éditions, 2018) and Olfactory Art and the Political in an Age of Resistance (Routledge, 2021), and has given several talks in Europe about the crossroads between art and olfaction. She is also a writer for the French olfactory magazine NEZ.


The Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) is San Francisco’s only museum devoted to craft and design. Founded in 2004, MCD showcases designers, makers, and artists through an exciting and distinctive series of craft and design-focused exhibitions and public programs. As a non-collecting institution, the museum actively collaborates with artists, designers, museums, and universities, as well as design venues and practitioners to create inspirational experiences in the world of craft and design for visitors of all ages. Learn more at


Date: Da Saturday, February 12, 2022 a Sunday, June 05, 2022

Organized by : IMF Foundation

In collaboration with : EP Studio

Entrance : With fee