Research consistently shows that experiences are more likely than material goods to lead to happiness so it’s no real surprise that more and more organisations try and create experiences that stimulate as many of our senses as possible.
Unsurprisingly in many ways some of the most innovative multi-sensory experiences revolve around food. There’s no doubt – immersive dining is hot! Kitchen Theory is a collaborative gastronomic project in the UK. Lately it has particularly been interested in exploring Synaesthesia – a neurological condition in which two or more of the five senses normally experienced separately are involuntarily joined together. Earlier this year they hosted a series of multi-sensory dining events which included ‘Synaesthesia by Kitchen Theory’, a seven course meal developed in conjunction with synaesthesia experts to make sure the diners’ experience was authentic.
Synaesthesia has also been recently celebrated by British artist Sean Rogg who invites guests through seven different environments, each incorporating elements of the five senses exploring colour through food, art, fine wine, choreography and theatre.
In our last edition of TMI-Spy Airlines we looked at how the sense of hearing was being synced with different meals by British Airways to enhance taste. In a similar vein Bompas & Parr have collaborated with Sony on an experience called Sonic Wonderland to test sound’s effect on perception. It allowed diners to explore the theory that a dish can be made up to 10% sweeter or 10% bitterer if accompanied by the right music. Breast of quail, goat’s cheesecake and deconstructed trifle were accompanied by music that varied from romantic orchestral to low frequency drone.
Bompas & Parr have been keeping busy – moving away from sound to smell. Apparently if you inhale alcohol, you get drunk. That’s certainly the hypothesis behind a London pop-up bar – Alcoholic Architecture. As guests enter they are given a plastic poncho and enter a misting chamber. Here a room is filled with a sweet mist that smells like gin and tonic. Visibility is less than three feet which enhances the mystique and encourages ‘mingling’. Bompas & Parr are aiming to introduce pleasant intoxication. Sounds fun but we still like our G&Ts the old-fashioned way.
Hotels are also joining in the trend for sensory stimulation. Earlier this year, guests at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch could experience a psychedelic light show in their 100 Room. The boutique hotel invited in multimedia experts, who were known for performing at Woodstock, to create the show as an accompaniment to feature film Inherent Vice.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas also hosted a light show earlier this year. ‘The Octave of Visible Light’ was a pop-up meditation nightclub in the hotel that used brainwaves to direct the club’s audio and visuals. Guests wore EEG headsets which interpreted brainwaves and submitted a corresponding signal to the AV system. A unique 15 minute meditative set was created by guests as colours and sounds matched the brainwave signals. The creator Lia Chavez wanted visitors to have a transcendental experience that would be more powerful than a crowded dance room.
Headsets are a clear staple of virtual reality experiences which are increasingly emerging and next year we should see the introduction of a set of immersive virtual reality theme parks. These ‘virtual reality centres’ opened by The Void will combine the physical environment with virtual reality technology to create what is describe as “the ultimate gaming experience.” Gamers can choose different “pods” in the centre where they can take part in a variety of adventures from dinosaur safaris to fighting aliens in futuristic battlefields. Gamers will not only have a head-mounted display with tracking sensors and microphones but also gloves and a motion-tracking vest to further enhance the senses.
It seems fitting to finish this section off with a good sleep – all this multi-sensory experience can be very tiring! The KSEVT Hotel in Slovenia allows guests to spend the night sleeping in mid-air in Earth’s closest simulation of zero-gravity without leaving the planet. The system uses a levitation suit which connects to a series of ropes and pulleys that create hammocks to support different parts of the body. The suit moves with the wearer ensuring they are safely suspended above the floor. Just remember to keep on your side of the bed!
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