Explore Rotterdam with Your Nose!

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From Tue. 31th of March till Fri. 3rd of April, I'll give a workshop at Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam. It's about exploring the City of Rotterdam with the "nose". Those smells found by students will be updated on this Google Map through the week.

CrossLab projectweek 2009
Willem de Kooning Academie

guest teacher
Maki Ueda


Explore Rotterdam with your nose


the sense of smell, smelling, smell as a medium, smell-landscape, smell preservation, extraction of smell molecules from a material, smell composition


What do you smell if you walk around the City of Rotterdam? The exotic smell of a Toko, the muddy smell of The River Maas, the tasty smell from the bread factory, etc. etc.

What is the character of the smell that you are smelling now? How to describe it? And how to share that smell with someone who is not present? In this project you are going to explore Rotterdam on the level of smell. After a couple of field-works, you are required to make a presentation of the smells that you've found in the city, in one way or the other.


– You will (have to) smell a lot
– You learn how to communicate about smell with others
(you learn the basic vocabulary for analyzing and expressing the
character of the smell)
– You learn about how smelling works
– You learn how to capture a smell (in the most simple way)
– You learn how to compose smells (in the most simple way)
– You learn about the smell-landscape of Rotterdam, off course!

week planning:

Tuesday: introduction, discussion on smell and smelling, field-work 1st day
Wednesday: demo of smell preservation, field-work 2nd day
Thursday: field-work 3rd day / preparation for the presentation
Friday: presentation

Working method:

You will work individually or in a small group.

reference / inspiration:



experimentation after experimentation

This is the 'roasting tea smell' that I've extracted the other day.

The smell has changed a bit. Milder.

Now I am going to separate the smell part from the fat.

The result is absolute. Very mild absolute.

Now I'm going to experiment with incense making. I've applied the turmeric powder that my aunt made herself.

My son helped me as he was having a vacation from the school.

I've added 50% turmeric to the amount of incense base. It's difficult to burn. Perhaps I should add some charcoal powder.

Now, I'm going to experiment with Jinko / agarwood.

It's very expensive material.

Trying maceration both with oil and alcohol.

Oil-base takes much more time than I thought. Alcohol-base seems to me better.

For fun I've made a creme and scented it with the agarwood essential oil that I got as a sample from AOF. It's very dry and earthy so I've added clove and sandalwood. 3 days later it got rounded and became nice, sexy creme!


review - New York Times Magazine

A review of the exhibition If there ever was is in the New York Times Magazine!


by Chandler Burr