Rose and Nose 


Health, Installation, Exhibition

Gallery of smell is not about smell, it is about people who lost the ability to smell. They are Anosmia. A group of lovely people, just lost the ability to smell. Rose and Nose is an interactive exhibition that  showcase Anosmia’s  daily life, which aims to let more people getting to know them, understanding them in order to give a hand. 

Exhibition on Gallery C, Podium, Jockey Club Innovation Tower

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

PolyU Exhibition Link 

Inspiration →

There must be a time that you waked up by the fresh air burned by the early sun in the morning. Its smell like new life, right?

I used to remember that in my childhood, my mom always wake me up by the smell of boiling milk. And that, was long time ago.

Then I lost ability to smell, at my 23 years old. It was a suffer time for me indeed. At this moment, I just realized that how odor important to my life. I remember the smell of water evaporation under the sunrise, that is Australia. I remember the smell of the heavy rain, that is my hometown. I remember the smell of the boil the milk, that is my childhood. Just like Robert Browning said, any nose may ravage with impunity a rose.

For me, Without Nose, I still looking for my Rose.





Information  Board  ↑



Suffer what I lost wont stop me any longer. I started looking around, see if there is other people just like me. Research indicated that until 2003, there are 2 million people are Anosmia in United stated [1] . That is 1/3 of Hong Kong citizen. Even worse, there are group people are Congenital Anosmia, which means they was born without ability to smell anything. Studies suggest that approximately 1 in 10,000 people are affected by congenital Anosmia. The fact is, Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure or treatment for congenital anosmia.

It continue leading to another question : What problem will Anosmia meet in daily life?  Research indicated that the sense of taste is reinforced and influenced by smell, because eating air is forced upward from the mouth through chewing movement. People who eat with blocked noses taste only a few flavors – namely, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. [2] There is a study of Odor-driven behavior indicated, one difference between smell and the other senses, however, is that the ultimate interpretation of smell impressions take place mainly (or affects) those parts of the brain connected with emotions, feelings and motivation.[2]

They are so many people are Anosmia, but I never heard of it before I become one of them. So does the majority. After I become Anosmia, people always ask me : How is the world without smile?  Do you need any help?  Typical people are curious about atypical people(Anosmia), they want to understand Anosmia in order to help. However, It is only hypothesis from my experience.

[1]          HOW MANY PEOPLE SUFFER FROM ANOSMIA?. Anosmia Foundation of Canada. 2003. Retrieved from http://www.    

[2]         Vroon, P., Amerongen, Anton van, & Vries, Hans de. (1997). Smell : The secret seducer (1st Farrar, Straus and Giroux ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


Questionnaire and Result →

To validation both my hypothesis and  literature review, an online survey was conducted for 175 typical people and an interview was conducted with 5 atypical people.

Online questionnaire for typical people 

Interview question  for atypical people 

Insight from Research 



Concept and Iteration

Entry of the exhibition ↑

The entry of the exhibition is a huge nose with a title – Gallery of smell , smell if you can.

A big nose in public space will drop more attention and making people curious about the content of the exhibition.  Figure on the right shows that the aerial view of the exhibition, it will comes with 6 section including 4 installation and 2 information area.

Information Zone ↑

After Audience attracted by the unique share of nose and coming inside, they will receive a information card. At this stage, the propose of information card is to create high exception among audiences by word description.

Installation 1  ↑

The first installation is about smell of food. Because 40 typical people’s favorite smell related to food in the survey, 57.5% of them think they will no longer enjoy the food once they lost ability to smell. On another hand, 4/5 atypical people still love food , but only visually. It is the installation that showcase what is the smell of food for atypical people. Different color represent different soup, every time audience open the lip , a color will changed to remind about different soup. This installation is trying to simulate a situation that food only visually enjoy by Anosmia.

Installation 2  ↑

The second installation is smell of best perfume. This installation basically on that 3/5 Anosmia answers in the interview that one of the difficulty they meet in daily life is that they can not wear perfume anymore, it matters to a dating, and more. This installation is intended to showcase that how Anosmia’s life with perfume.

Installation 3 ↑

Smell of mom is the most frequently topic to mention from both typical and atypical people. It is abstract to tell, and everyone have different version of story. Instead of tell a general idea of Mom’s smell, a personal story can be create in order to evoke memory of mom. Once audiences getting inside of the box, there will be a voice coming, and that is where my story comes out.

Installation 4 ↑

Last installation, which is smell of home. When people getting closer and smell the smoke coming out from the cone, it will comes with the sound of gas explosion. On the eye level, they can see a sentence tell them people can’t smell are really worried about gas issue. So they know what problems anosmia could meet. This is because 2/5 Anosmia mention that they worried about gas explosion issue at home, and Typical people mention that there will be gas reveal issue if can’t smell anything.

Information Zone 2 ↑

When audience finished visit all installations, there will be a  lesson board to teach how to describe smell by borrow words associated with other senses, or share a story about smell.

Information Zone 2 ↑

At the end of the exhibition, there are have a section called “welcome to the world of smell”. In this area, there are have a some thing like the second installation – Smell of perfume, but this time, audiences can really smell it, and describe it by information board. This is what I learned from the experiences of Dialog in the dark. Firstly they turn off the light and let you walk in the dark, at the end they will open the light and let you see what is the real environment. It will emphasis the feeling of losing and getting back, it will emphasis the feeling of sympathy and understanding.

Familiar and Unfamiliar ↑

There are 4 installation in this exhibition. The first two installation is daily life object that people are familiar with ,like Smell of food, and smell of perfume. At this stage, it intended to make audiences stay confuse because the things they familiar have no smell.

It is what i called – familiar to unfamiliar.

The last two installation is abstract shape, like the smell of mom is a box hang in the air. At this stage, audiences will understanding why the exhibition have no smell. It will emphasis the feeling of sympathy and comprehend in order to give a hand. The abstract shape of the installation is represent Anosmia, they are not the same as typical people, they lost the ability to smell.

It is unfamiliar to familiar.

User Journey Map ↑

This is the whole scenario from high expecting , to confusing, mad, and then understanding and sympathy, at the end trying to help with solutions. It will evoke people pay more attention to smell and understand even help anosmia in daily life.

It is not only a exhibition, it is an experience of lost ability to smell. This will evoke more people to think about smell: How important is smell to a human being’s daily life? Why we can’t describe a smell to Anosmia in a interesting way? Why we have so many high- technology, but still can not catch a smell at anytime we want.


Concept and Iteration

Paper prototype

Paper Prototype ↑

2 users suggest that giving a light inside would be much clear to see the image. 3 users indicated that it is too high for them to see the picture. All of them think the story was too long without enough photos. 2 User stated that it need to be looks nice inside in terms of the photo layout and quality. In the end, 2 out of 5 was trying after listen the story. It was really touched at the end.

Changed →


Concept and Iteration


Perceived and Real ↑

Basic on the feedback from Paper prototype, there have been find that installation 3 – Smell of Mom are make people confused in terms of affordance. The problem for installation 3 – Smell of Mom is that most audience have no idea why there is a box hang in the air and they will not be able to get inside of the box because there are no sign.

A wooden box is sensory affordance where user can see it (emphasis by the red color) as an attribute of cognitive affordance or physical affordance; Cognitive affordance is design feature that helps users in knowing something. In this case, food print onwooden box will helps user to know how to do it.

Physical affordance is design feature that helps users in doing a physical action in the interface. In this case, wooden box is big enough so that user can stand on it safely.




A spoon in the middle of the bowl is aims to give a real soup looking without seeing spray splatters from aromatherapy machine. Every time colour will change when people coming by that aims to  remind different color of soup.


There are not perfume but water inside of the perfume bottle.

Because of the safety issue in PolyU, this installation was changed into a box with 4 stick instead of hang in the air. Every time when audience getting under the box, it will be a voice coming out. And that is my story of   “smell of mom”.

A cone shape of the object was replaced by this box. There are three hole from aromatherapy machine which still given a abstract shape but easy for user to bending and smell it than a cone. When audiences come by, it will be a gas explore sound coming out with a text on the screen : “people who lost their ability to smell, they are afraid gas issue at home.”

Share the fun of smell to Anosmia by audience’s own description.

Message board about anything related to Smell.


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