From smells to stories: The design and evaluation of the smell memory kit

Susana Camara Leret, Valentijn Visch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
629 Downloads (Pure)


The study presented is a research through design of the motivational, story sharing effects of smell, within the context of addiction care. This investigation led to the co-design of the Smell Memory Kit: a kit using eight selected smells as motivational elements to evoke and share autobiographical episodic stories among addiction care clients. A pilot evaluation study with clients (N = 14) of the Kit showed the potential of its effect in evoking and sharing episodic autobiographical stories. Moreover, qualitative analysis of the data links the distinct smells to four qualities of the autobiographical stories (i.e., emotion, clarity, specificity, and age). The research outcomes are promising in depicting the use of smells as sense data to effectively encode practices and experiences which can later be retrieved as simulations through an encounter/exposure to an odour. With regard to design, the present study shows that smells can perfectly function as a design material for storytelling, and more specifically as promising game elements in persuasive game design, motivating clients to elicit and share rich episodic memories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Addiction Care Therapy
  • Embodied Knowledge
  • Memory
  • Persuasive Game Design
  • Research Through Design
  • Smell


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