This past month I had the pleasure to escape. With my children, my husband, and (yes!) parents. We tucked away in a quiet bay for 10 blissful days in the Yucatan. My 'beach read' was Proust - In Search of Lost Time (but let's be real, I have two kids, so I'm lucky to have made it through Combray.)
The story, elderly Aunts and long days of childhood, cloistered rooms and dusty streets... and madeleines... all centered around this elusive thing - evocative moments and involuntary memories. That crystal clear moment when your senses are awakened and you are somewhere else you've been before. I am fascinated by the art of an engaging, holistic experience, whether creationary or transportational. What builds these moments? What tucks them away for a future reference, and what draws them out again? Is it truly, as Proust thought, outside our control?
Consider your personal experience: let's say (for example) ... lighting (dim), scent (briny), temperature (seeing your breath for the first time this year), humidity (crackling), reflections (morning ripples), shadows (taunting your imagination), movement (swinging), sound (rasping leaves)... memories? anything?
Personally, a whiff of diesel and I'm transported to a motorcycle in the Bulgarian countryside. The enameled body and firm leather seat, bodies pressed close and heads heavy with helmets while bare arms dare the asphalt and sun to touch them. Sweet pipe tobacco and I'm in my Great Grandparent's home: it's Christmas and everything is gold and Naugahyde and fluorescent. The faintest smell of sunscreen puts the warm, soft, weight of a child in my lap.
Only recently have we begun to re-examine the complete construction of an environment, with scent, as a part, known to be one of the most powerful memory stimulators. From sleepy Le Labo perfumed halls of Chicago's Robey to the overcompensating teenage retail dens of Abercrombie et cetera, to liltingly scented exhibits at our own MIA, designers have begun to explore the potential of utilizing all the senses. Consider the power (and the pleasure) available to us if we were to tap into more.