New School News

Nose Design Headspace Symposium to Explore Use of Scent

On March 26, Parsons The New School for Design and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will present HEADSPACE, a daylong symposium exploring scent as design. The event will bring together leading designers, scholars, scientists, artists, and perfumers to explore the potential of scent to enhance the experience of design. Presented in partnership with International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. (IFF), Coty Inc., and Seed, the event celebrates the launch of the new MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons.

HEADSPACE was conceived by Jamer Hunt, chair of the MFA in Transdisciplinary Design; Laetitia Wolff, founder of futureflair; and Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the department of Architecture and Design at MoMA. Panelists include IFF Senior Perfumer Carlos Benaim; Anna Barbera, a Milan-based researcher and author who specializes in the links between built space and aroma; conceptual scent artist Sissel Tolaas; product designer Ayse Birsel; architecture and design critic Sylvia Lavin; neurobiologist Leslie Vosshall, whose pioneering work on olfaction is based on research on fruit flies and mosquitoes; architect Toshiko Mori; designer and researcher Susana Soares, whose BEE’S project uses these insects as biosensors to detect diseases such as lung cancer, skin cancer and tuberculosis; and Jean-Louis Frechin, a designer exploring hyper-sensoriality.

In addition to panel discussions, HEADSPACE will include a select group of “accidental perfumers,” Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck of Birsel + Seck; Zoe Coombes and David Boira of Commonwealth; Toshiko Mori; Majora Carter; and Marije Vogelzang of the Amsterdam-based design studio Proef. These designers have partnered with IFF perfumers to create a series of unique applications for scent in everyday life, beyond fragrance. A film by Jane Nisselson of the company Virtual Beauty will document the designer/perfumer collaborations, and record the extraordinary process of designing a scent. New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr will moderate individual dialogues with the accidental perfumers on their scent design as well as on their creative process.

HEADSPACE is free and open to the public. Registration is required by visiting For more information on the MFA in Transdiscplinary Design, visit

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