The Smelly Tunnel
The Smelly Tunnel was an olfactory installation built for the Philadelphia Flower Show in FDR Park. The piece used scented mist to explore the healing power of nature, and what we can learn as we consider our own positive wellbeing and connection.
The show’s theme “In Full Bloom”, prompted the team to interpret the garden as a place for wellness, connection, healing, and a passion for life. With everything that has happened in the past two years, we all need moments of respite, relief, and calm. In particular, we saw the children in our lives struggling with the mental toll that comes with lockdowns and a world plagued by illness and worry.
The same can be said about adults during this time; our inner child - that is, the free-spirited, carefree part of us - has not received nearly enough love and care. All of us at one point or another were in survival mode, and some never return to the joyful, playful, curious, inquisitive spirit we once had. With this in mind, the team wanted to create a piece that was grounded in that memory, a simpler time.
The Smelly Tunnel from afar gives off the feeling of an oversized playscape, a curious structure that is welcoming and overwhelming all at once. Upon closer inspection, the immersive, colorful tunnel came with a surprise: a scented, cooling mist with smells associated with the color of each arch. Sense of smell is most closely tied to memory, and the three scents - lavender, citrus, and eucalyptus - are linked with relaxation and rejuvenation.
During the show’s run at FDR Park, visitors of all ages walked, ran, and smelled through the tunnel - arms raised to try and touch the cooling mist. For some visitors recovering from COVID-19, they shared that this was the first thing they were able to smell.
The piece was a reminder to visitors to slow down, rest, and recharge, even after the show. It is okay to find a place where you can be refreshed - like flowers, we will bloom if we take the time to water ourselves.
2022 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show
FDR Park - Philadelphia, PA