Bookmark and Share


Parsons and MoMA in Partnership with IFF, Coty, and Seed Present HEADSPACE: A Symposium on Scent as Design

March 26 Event Marks Establishment of New
MFA Transdisciplinary Design Program at Parsons

NEW YORK, March 4, 2010 – Parsons The New School for Design and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), in partnership with International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF), Coty Inc. and Seed, present HEADSPACE: A Symposium on Scent as Design, which will take place on Friday, March 26 at Tishman Auditorium at The New School. This daylong event will bring together for the first time leading designers, scholars, scientists, artists, and perfumers to explore this new territory for design. The event marks the establishment of a new MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons.

"We understand the world around us through our senses," said Joel Towers, Dean of Parsons. "Through scent we more fully perceive space, fashion our identities, and navigate the built and natural environments. This is an ideal topic to address as Parsons prepares to launch a new MFA program in Transdisciplinary Design, which will break the boundaries of traditional design to create a new method of collaborative, cross-disciplinary practice."

HEADSPACE brings together panelists including 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.

The program was conceived by Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA; Jamer Hunt, chair of Urban and Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons; and Laetitia Wolff, founder of futureflair. The three will also serve as moderators, together with Adam Bly, founder and CEO of Seed.

"Scent is an exciting realm for design exploration at a time when technology seems to be leading us further away from direct sensory experiences," said Antonelli. "However, new science is exploring the ways in which scent stimulates cognition, memory, and the production of experience. This symposium will generate a dialogue on what this means for designers and architects."

In addition to panel discussions, this immersive and experiential event includes 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 Celine Barel, Yves Cassar, Jean Marc Chaillan, Loc Dong, Pascal Gaurin, Clement Gavarry, Bruno Jovanovic, Laurent Le Guernec 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.

During the course of the day, 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. In addition, Hunt will unveil the work of a group of students who collaborated with IFF perfumers to create a sensory experience, an interdisciplinary project called "Critical Experiments in the Smell of Space and Time."

"IFF is thrilled to be partnering with Parsons and MoMA on this groundbreaking event," said Véronique Ferval, Creative Center Manager at IFF NY, the world’s leading producer of flavors and fragrances. "One of our priorities is to increase knowledge and foster innovation in our industry, and we are delighted to work with professional designers as well as students to explore new areas of discovery."

For more information and to register for this event, please visit

About the MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons
Parsons The New School for Design is one of the most prestigious and comprehensive schools of art and design in the world. In Fall 2010, Parsons will launch a new MFA in Transdisciplinary Design, which will serve as a laboratory to empower designers to face the complex challenges of today's global culture through new forms of collaborative, cross-disciplinary practice. The program is based in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons, which encompasses programs that apply design thinking to address the intersection of cities, services and ecosystems. For more information, please visit

About The Museum of Modern Art
Founded in 1929 as an educational institution, The Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to being the foremost museum of modern and contemporary art in the world. MoMA's collection includes over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and design objects; 22,000 films, videos, media works, film stills, scripts, posters, and historical documents; and significant holdings in it's Library and Archives. MoMA maintains an active schedule of exhibitions addressing a wide range of subject matter, mediums, and time periods, highlighting recent developments in the visual arts and new interpretations of major artists and art historical movements. In addition, the Museum is dedicated to its role as an educational institution and provides a complete program of activities intended to assist both the general public and special segments of the community in approaching and understanding the world of modern and contemporary art. For more information, please visit

About International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.
International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (NYSE: IFF) is a leading creator of flavors and fragrances used in a wide variety of consumer products and packaged goods. Consumers experience these unique scents and tastes in fine fragrances and beauty care, detergents and household goods, as well as beverages, confectionary and food products. The Company leverages its competitive advantages of brand understanding and consumer insight combined with its focus on R&D and innovation, to provide customers with differentiated product offerings. A member of the S&P 500 Index, IFF has sales, manufacturing and creative facilities in 32 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit our Web site at

About Coty Inc.
Coty was created in Paris in 1904 by François Coty who is credited with founding the modern fragrance industry. Today, Coty Inc. is a recognized leader in global beauty with annual net sales of nearly $4 billion. Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, passion, innovation and creativity, Coty Inc. has developed an unrivaled portfolio of notable brands and delivers its innovative products to consumers in 90 markets worldwide. For additional information, please visit

About Seed
Seed – the magazine - was conceived to tell the story of science's changing place and role in the world. The magazine’s success has led to new ventures spanning digital and social media, software, and data visualization, all connected by a belief in science's potential to improve the state of the world and a mission to create technology to help realize that potential. To learn more, visit

The organizers would like to thank event sponsors Seed, Coty Inc. and The Standard, New York Hotel.

Media Contacts:
Parsons The New School for Design: Deborah Kirschner, 212.229.5667 x4310, [email protected]
MoMA: Daniela Stigh, 212.708.9747, [email protected]
IFF: Kristin Gallucci, 973.359.4444, [email protected]

# # #