Polysensory: Relating to multiple senses or modes of perception. Something that affects multiple sense mechanisms. When a person engages in polysensory play, he or she is responding to multiple agents or stimuli.
Think about walking into a garden. You see a colourful assortment of flowers. You hear the bees buzzing around in their busyness and birds chirping from the trees. The fragrance of the garden is intoxicating and you bend down to smell a flower. You touch its petal and feel it’s silky softness beneath your fingers. You notice some blackberries nearby and you pop two in your mouth to taste the explosion of sweet and sour. All your senses are tingling in response to all that is going on around you.
This is the sort of experience Terry Jacobson, Founder & CEO of AllSense Pte Ltd, aspired to create on with Sensorium: A Fantastical Carnival of the Senses. This two-day celebration of urban wellness rituals and polysensory play that took place on 17th-18th November 2018 featured exhibitions, workshops, tastings and crafted gifts. This sensation-driven carnival presented six unique attractions that promised to invoke a sense of awe and curiosity in participants, including an installation of scented jars, Christmas candle-making, a bubble parade and hands-on mixology sessions for all ages and sensory tastes. Participants also immersed themselves in an emporium of beauty and F&B products and a series of wellness workshops by Hook Coffee, Mamonde, nenä, Oo La Lab and The Dark Gallery while jiving to live music by Bottlesmoker.
Participants learned to appreciate the sense of touch
As the curator of the festival, Terry aimed to plunge participants into a world that evoked all their senses. Having traversed the world from his birthplace in South Africa to Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, he draws upon interactions with these rich, diverse cultures for his inspiration to change the way we perceive the world. A global citizen, storyteller and an entrepreneur, Terry shares how he attempts to bring the polysensoriality to the world in this exclusive interview with The Wellness Insider:
Q: Could you start off by telling us what eventually brought you to Singapore?
I am a serial entrepreneur, I love ideas, I love telling stories, and I am driven to leave a positive impact on the world. My projects before AllSense include launching a youth orientated e-zine in South Africa, creative direction for Australian narrowcast radio station Bondi FM (which included the release of a double album entitled Beach Vibes) and running a lifestyle magazine for Virgin Mobile.
From a young age, I was drawn to the power of human experience, fascinated by the ‘human condition’ and this sensitivity preempted my journey into the world of fragrance.
I moved to Australia and subsequently Hong Kong but the big opportunity in Singapore (at that time) was with Capitaland & Sung Hung Kai who were soon to launch ION Orchard and they motivated me to set up a local business here.
Terry Jacobson, Founder & CEO of AllSense Pte Ltd
Q: How does your family play a role in your work, if they do at all?
As a father of three young boys, I draw deep inspiration from them. There are many details that we as adults miss. The mind of a child is such a wonderful thing, its default settings being ‘awe’ and ‘curiosity’. So this youthful perspective is a catalyst for my passion and creativity.
Q: What inspired the inception of AllSense?
I’ve always been an ideas person and drawn to things that are a bit different. I was actually in the United States for a friend’s wedding and missed my flight home. I remember reading USA Today on how retailers can engage people in their store environments; there was a three-line paragraph on scent and I thought it was a crazy enough idea for me. So I ripped out the article, took it back to Sydney and started doing some more research.
Q: What is polysensoriality and how do you use it to engineer emotional associations for brands?
Polysensoriality is an approach to making meaning of the world around us using more than just our eyes; it is about using ALL of our senses to connect the dots. As Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” He was referring to mass communication. Indeed it is the same as our senses where each sensory channel gives us different types of information.
In a branded sense, polysensoriality is created through rich storytelling where we try to involve as many senses as possible.
Q: Could you tell us a little more about one of the major projects you have undertaken using sensory marketing?
In line with SG50, we self-funded a project entitled ‘50 Scents’ which featured 50 different fragrances that were inspired by Singapore’s neighbourhoods and their associations with food, flowers and surroundings. The data compiled was used to create Singapore’s first scent map. A series of eight “scent walks” covering the island was also held.
On a commercial level, designing a signature fragrance for Changi Airport sits close to the top of our list. Being a major gateway into Singapore as well as Asia, this branding work took on extra significance, considering we were entrusted to create what is the first emotional impression for many travellers entering into Singapore.
The children got to experiment with making their own perfume with Oo La Lab
Q: How have aspects of your work been incorporated into Sensorium?
Sensorium is driven by an immersive journey, heightened by sensory storytelling that engages mood, memory and emotion. There are strong fragrance components, such as our natural remedy bar and rose appreciation display that invites discovery and self-mastery. For me, the human sense of smell is so evocative that it forms an integral part of the Sensorium journey.
Q: Why Sensorium in Singapore?
In a simple sense, I would like people to re-discover what it is to feel awe. We have become rather cynical and jaded as a post-millennium urbanised culture. We are fixated by technology and how it simplifies our lives or blissfully distracts us.
I want Sensorium to inspire a return to our humanity via a personal journey of sensing and feeling. Sensorium means ‘seat of sensation’. It is our human ability to sense and feel.
Sensorium brings back some of the nostalgia and awe we had associated with a visit to the carnivals and circuses of old. The power to sense and assign meaning are human skills that add colour to what we perceive – skills that cannot be delegated to a computer to process.
Q: What was your experience with researching the exhibits for the carnival?
I didn’t research any exhibits per se. I started with bold attraction catch-phrases featuring our various senses, and from there we developed the actual working concepts. So you may call this an iterative process.
Q: What sort of planning goes into the curating process?
Once we fleshed out the various attraction concepts, we had to plan for the props and various treatments. Because our conceptual orbit is something of a ‘mad scientist lab’, this normally involves the sourcing and manufacture of related chemistry apparatus.
Q: What sort of outcome are you hoping for?
Sensorium brings back some of the nostalgia and awe we had associated with a visit to the carnivals and circuses of old. I want Sensorium to inspire a return to our natural physiological state of sensing and feeling.
Jars of Smells – Put your nose to the test
Q: Just from a quick glance at the various installations of the carnival, it looked set to be a pleasant assault on our senses.
Sensorium was a 2-day carnival that featured exhibitions, workshops, tastings and crafted gifts. This sensation-driven carnival presents six unique attractions that will re-connect you with your senses.
Q: What is your favourite workshop/event/installation in the carnival?
Jars of Smells is my favourite. It’s a challenge for the entire family that really puts our skill (or lack thereof) of smelling into focus.
Q: What improvements would you make?
For future festivals, I would like to invite artists to envision their own take on our various installations. I would like to open up the creative process to more collaborators.
Q: Sensorium is definitely a great way to introduce polysensoriality in Singapore and raise awareness about it. What else can be done to foster more knowledge on polysensoriality here?
We really do live in an ocular-centric world. Any activities that reduce our dependence on eyesight and encourage us to process the world around us through our softer senses should be encouraged. If we can motivate schools and parents to raise the status of learning and meaning-making via polysensorial perception, this would be a great start.
Q: We hear you’re quite the practitioner of mindfulness! Any mindful advice for our readers?
Mindfulness is not just about yoga or quieting of the mind. It is about enhancing our experience of the world by fully harnessing the power of all our senses to rekindle a sense of awe in our surroundings, and to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the fleeting moments in our lives. Scents and engaging our human sense of smell can be particularly powerful in harnessing emotions, mood and memory to positively affect our holistic wellbeing.
The AllSense lab produces a range of customisable scents and our latest consumer product, nenä, presents a collection of hand-blended essential oil remedies paired with simple breathing and stretching exercises designed to bring balance and mindfulness into our everyday habitats, such as sitting at the office desk or waiting in a queue.
Photo Credits: WhiteLabel PR