Qatari multidisciplinary designer Aisha Nasser Al Sowaidi explores the potent power of scents to evoke memories and trigger emotions in her unique olfactory installation “The State of You” launched on Saturday at W Doha’s Art 29.
Speaking to The Peninsula at the opening of the exhibition, Al Sowaidi said she created the installation for Qatar’s pavilion at last year’s London Design Biennale under the theme “Emotional States.”
The installation comprises seven units shaped like small domes made of concrete and gypsum bearing traditional patterns. Each of the dome emits a certain scent when a visitor stands beneath it.
“The gypsum designed with patterns found in traditional Qatari houses represent the old Doha while the concrete represents the new vibrant city with all its new buildings and streets,” explained Al Sowaidi, adding she recreated the scent emitted by each of the units from her memories.
“I recreated seven different scents, each of which is very personal to me and represents a moment that I experienced in the past. I usually don’t explain about these moments because they are very personal, but maybe the scents could provoke certain memories of other people as well,” she said.
With an MFA in Design Studies and a BA in Graphic Design, Al Sowaidi was part of Doha Fire Station’s first batch of Artist in Residence programme. She has also represented Qatar in some of the world’s leading design exhibitions including Qatar Germany 2017 and the prestigious London Design Biennale in 2018.
“In all of my works, I have always been interested in creating installations or objects related to memory and olfactory is the closest sense that takes you back in time and connects you directly to your memories,” she explained on her choice of medium for this project.
Each unit of the installation releases scented smoke to create an augmented moment of complete isolation that takes a person to another state, a state of his own, hence the title of the exhibition.
“I like to create moments – little moments that make a person feel home from within, and memory makes one belong to a moment that is familiar-a space, a home. In a fast-changing city and time, it is difficult to have things familiar so I aim through this installation to create familiar moments to make people feel home again,” she said.
The exhibition is open for public viewing until November 26 from 10am to 10pm at Art 29 – an exciting space that provides platform to up and coming local, regional and international artists to showcase their work and aspirations to the community.
“Through providing a platform of self-expression, Art 29 is not only showcasing the country’s growing base of talented artists, but it is also helping them expand their reach, tell their stories and inspire the next generation of aspiring talents. We invite everyone in the community as well as visitors to the hotel to experience this timeless journey that this exhibition offers,” said Wassim Daaje, General Manager of W Doha.