Monday, May 14, 2012

What if there was no print/label to ID perfumes or spices? I know my nose would work, what about yours?

I have a well-trained Scent Memory, and I provide my students at the Natural Perfumery Institute with the tools to link the nose, hand, mind via specific exercises and recording forms to train themselves.

Scent Memory is a valuable tool!

Here's an interesting story.  Hewlett Packard convinced a town in the USA to do without print for a week.  This experiment was also conducted in India and Singapore, and the two quotes from those locales are what surprised me.  The woman in Singapore though her perfumes smelled different when she didn't have the labels to ID them, and a man in India complained that his mother-in-law didn't cook for the week because she didn't know what spices were what!

Yes, I would be confused in a supermarket if all the labels were removed - who wouldn't - but my sense of smell would definitely get me through the perfume confusion, as I have so many raw materials and perfumes committed to Scent Memory.  I wouldn't have any problems with the spices either, at least the visual cues (turmeric is yellow/orange, cardamom seeds look like cardamom seeds, and have the distinctive aroma even when crushed), so I'm a little worried about the Indian lady!

This is a fascinating read on many levels, but of course, I only honed in on the sense of smell ones.  What do you think?  Would you be befuddled if your perfumes labels disappeared?  Could you cook if your spices and herbs weren't labeled?  I'd love to hear from you on this.

Here is the article:

Experiment shows value of print

Last updated 05:00 14/05/2012
A Singaporian kitchen where all the labels had been removed as part of the HP study.
NO LABEL: A Singaporian kitchen where all the labels had been removed as part of the HP study.
Imagine a world without print.
That's what personal computer and printer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard did when it took all printed materials away from the small northern mid-west American town of Spring Green for seven days as part of a social experiment.
"People said they felt bleak, sad, despondent. It felt like they were living in a colourless world," a HP spokeswoman said at HP's Global Influencer's Summit in Shanghai.
Newspapers were removed from letter boxes, books from shelves, calendars and photographs from the walls of homes and offices. Labels were peeled from products on supermarket shelves, lettering was removed from road signs and shop frontages, clothes with printed patterns were banished from people's bodies.
The experience was chronicled in The Spring Green Experiment, a film to premier at the Guggenheim Museum in July.
"It's almost impossible to function without print," one participant said.
People scratched their heads in the supermarket, not sure which product was which.
At the Frank Lloyd Wright School, students found it impossible to compare notes on a project without any common frame of reference.
"Visual is everything to me," said one.
A primary school child wandered his home in his underwear, his printed patterned clothes removed.
"It's like I didn't exist without books," complained a teenager.
The film followed a shorter HP study conducted in the US, Singapore and India where HP removed print from people's lives for two days.
"Print has its strengths and limitations and both (print and digital methods) are necessary," the spokeswoman said.
"Imagine labels covered and you don't know what to expect."
One woman in Singapore, who didn't know which perfume was which, said: "I know it sounds crazy but my perfume didn't smell the same."
In India, where multiple spices are part of everyday cuisine, people disengaged with normal life. "A man couldn't wait for this experiment to be over because his mother in law wasn't cooking. She didn't know which spice was which." `
The experiment took an emotional toll on those who took part, HP found.
"Print is more reliable, sometimes the internet is not," the spokeswoman said. "We heard the word `blind' a lot."
HP will soon release a white paper on the project.


What do you think?  Could you ID your perfumes and spices without labels?

1 comment:

  1. That's an interesting study. I don't think I'd have a problem with spices. With perfume (not my own) I'd probably be able to ID 2-3. The rest would be a struggle.


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