Awakening Sense at Dinesen

Danish flooring company Dinesen has celebrated their Douglas tree material with two scents and a smell archive that capture the forest and the process of their planks. We spoke to artist and smell researcher Sissel Tolaas and architect Camilla Stig about their collaboration in creating the ‘A Sense of Dinesen’ project.

What was your ambition for the ‘A Sense of Dinesen’ project?

CS: The project is about paying tribute to the perceptual qualities within the products Dinesen deliver. We are very driven by how things visually come across, but stepping into a room with Dinesen planks makes an impression that goes beyond visual stimuli; it immediately invites you to inhale the wood too.

ST: Smells and smell molecules are a very crucial component in understanding the past, present and future of Dinesen. Challenging people within and also outside the company to use their noses gives them new methods and means to understand what this company is about.

What surprised you throughout the process?

CS: Because we wanted to emphasize the complexity of Dinesen Douglas through the sense of smell, we had to design an archive with different smell categories: Earthy, woody, nature extended, people, sawmill extended, airy, plank extended. It was very interesting to experience how people react to smells when they are taken out of their natural context and placed in a new environment.

ST: What surprised me was all the different stages and levels of care a tree goes through before it ends up on someone’s floor. It was essential for me to somehow capture those facts with the smell recordings, and indeed sometimes this was a challenge. But I must say that the way that individuals care for the tree and are proud of their job was stunning; this made an otherwise difficult task very much easier.

Why do you think it is important that design companies honor their materials in this manner?     

CS: I think it is important to care and respect our resources and make the absolute most of them. If design companies can help change a mindset by paying tribute to their resources, they can potentially help people understand that we all have to consume responsibly. ‘A Sense of Dinesen’ has become a tool to communicate perspectives that go far beyond just visual stimuli.

ST: Respect and care are keywords here – both for nature and for humans. If both are respected and cared for it becomes contagious and makes one come across as trustful, with the result that clients appreciate the acquired products differently.  For Dinesen, this is definitely the case.


Read more about the ‘A Sense of Dinesen’ project here.