Smells in Trees
user research - public installation
Create and test an instruction set for strangers in New York City, without using any form of spoke or written language. By making use of the sense of ‘smell’, we hung bags of spices and herbs in a public space. The main objective behind this project was to create a design intervention in a public space devoid of text or speech by focusing on the other senses.

Classroom Project developed for Major Studio 1 at Parsons
Project Teammates: Johanna Schneider, Hanna Borg
Duration: 2 weeks (Sep 2021)​​​​​​​
Video documentation of the setup and user interaction:
- observe and study the dynamics of public space and human behaviour
- identify patterns and details especially in various forms of non-verbal elements
- identify and visit the site to record examples of behaviour 
- define the goal of the instruction set
- define intended audience
- develop, prototype, test
- document interaction
Observation Studies
Choosing the Site
The intended site was The High Line and we checked the rules and regulations on the website and site signage (during our initial site visit) to ensure that we were good to go. However, during our test run we were asked not to hang or attach anything to property belonging to the site.

We had to immediately identify another site to execute our instruction set. We decided to go ahead with Jackson Square Park, a nearby urban park in Greenwich. Triangular in plan with arched entrances on each side that overlooked a central, beautiful fountain, the new site had a lot of similar properties as the High Line. In the end, the site change proved to be a blessing in disguise – better location, same intended audience / target group.
- lots of foot traffic
- couples, friends, family, people with pets
- people eating, chatting, reading, pedestrians
The entrance arch we picked:
- people passing through the arch – entry/exit
- only arch with foliage
- direct view of the the fountain
- people walking on the sidewalk 
- citi bike stand increased pedestrian traffic
Design Affordance
When we observed people over a period of two hours, it was interesting to see the range of reactions we could get from them based on the height and position of the bags. Based on how people’s interacted, we made small alterations:
1- added a red ribbon to hang the bags – for more visibility
- curious glances
- many ducked / re-oriented themselves to pass under the bags
- some clicked pictures of the bags
- short people jumped to reach – sense of excitement

2- hung cards with nose illustrations and a question mark
- made a huge difference and people started smelling the bags
- people began flipping the cards pens 

3- added a pen to the cards 
- people began writing/guessing what the smells were
- someone even drew nose rings on the nose illustration!

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