Royal College of Art

Phd Graduation film, 1997. 

Thesis title:  'Interactive Olfactory Surfaces - A Science Fashion Story'  

(Printed Textiles 1997)


Sponsored by IFF and RCA School of Computer-Related Design.

DesignAge (RCA) - first prize.


A film by Jenny Tillotson and Joanne Woodward
Sound by Phil Hartley
Voice-over by Sophie Vaughan


With thanks to:
Brian Eno
Dr Ralph Merkle (Park Xerox)

Marc Weiser  (Ubiquitous Computing)
Marc Rolland
Dr George Dodd
Gillian Crampton-Smith
Professor John Miles


Interactive olfactory surfaces: The Wellness Collection: A Science Fashion Story


"Physics Is A Function Of Size. . . "


The aim of the research was to create a textile emotional support system and new interactive communication system by 're-cabling' fabrics for releasing fragrances in 21st century fashion design. A new development, taking inspiration from biology, conjures up Multi-Sensorial Fabrics - based around the sense of smell. Using the theory that 'Smell Is Nanotechnology' and that biology works by nano-machines, biological actions can be miniaturised (such as 'sensing' in the animal world) to create an integrated system called THE WELLNESS COLLECTION.


Fragrances (and eventually medication, monitoring devices and digital information) will be actively 'pulsed' electronically through a cabling device system which will 'mimic' the human senses and in particular the scent glands in our bodies and be literally incorporated into the fabric structure. Technology with therefore be integrated in fabrics and carried in invisible clothing. The system also acts as a new vehicle for designer perfumes and healing aromas, reducing the application of alcohol on skin and microencapsulation.

The idea for designing multi-sensory fabrics and "smart" clothing that offered a "empowering emotional support system" , was inspired and informed by living with chronic mental ill health as a service user in the early-mid 1990's, and volunteering as a 'Buddy' for the Terrence Higgins Trust for people living with HIV & AIDS (1992-1993).

An imaginary story was written in 1994 which shaped the PhD research proposal and was called 'When A Meets B'.

Traditional textile design concerns passive issues relating to colour and texture (and performance purposes to a certain degree). However, this research concentrates on a more active approach to textile design, introducing the living active garment as a second skin. The aim is to combine a number of contrasting areas from the Arts and Sciences. For example : - Perfumery. Fashion Designs. Textile & Fibre Technologies. Space Age Clothing. Biosensing Techniques. 'Micro Tube' Technology. Fluid Control. 'Smart intelligence'. Human Biology & Psychology. Human Skin, Circulation & Nervous Systems. Medical Textiles. Controlled Drug Delivery Systems. Alternative Therapies. Nanotechnology. Although some might consider this project to be high risk, it is a general fact that creative and 'novel' research originates from multi disciplinary fields. Emphasis on this important fact must be acknowledged throughout the thought process of the following project which is documented as a thorough ‘library’ of valuable research information. The Science Fashion approach may therefore seem very futuristic, but as technology itself reduces in size such an approach becomes increasingly realistic.


The PhD can be downloaded from the British Library (EThOS) and from here



Professor John Miles                                   Professor Ian Shanks                             Professor Gillian Crampton-Smith
Dr Tom (Malcolm) Taylor                             Professor Andreas Manz                        Dr Paul Ewing
Dr George Dodd                                            Professor Dan Fern                                 Dr Catherine Harper

International Flavours & Fragrances         Professor Chris Lowe OBE                     Roger Coleman

Brian Eno                                                       Dr Frances Geesin                                  Marc Rolland

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