Perfumer Avinash Mali Recreated the Smell of New Delhi in Pollution Pods by Michael Pinsky

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When It Comes to Sustainability, We Won’t Accept the Status Quo 

WHO | Pollution Pods exhibit, Place des Nations
“Climate change is one of the most pervasive and threatening issues of our time, with far-reaching impacts in the twenty-first century,” observes the United Nations Environment Programme. In 2017, artist Michael Pinsky was commissioned by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), as part of Climart, to create Pollution Pods, with the support of BuildwithHubs, which explores how visual art affects viewer perceptions of climate change.

The Pollution Pods exhibit is at the forefront of large scale, immersive, interactive experiences, meant to be explored, provocative and Instagrammed as noted in the JWT’s Future 100: 2019 report which gathers disruptive currents into cultural forecasts.

Pioneers of the Senses 

We collaborated on the artwork, which is composed of five connected domes. Each pod represents a city and each takes visitors into a simulation of the pollution of five major cities, via scent, temperature and humidity, complete with an olfactory experience crafted by an IFF perfumer.

Aligned with IFF’s commitment to sustainability, it was not only an opportunity to build a bridge between art and science to help safeguard life on our planet but also an exciting way to push the boundaries of what is possible as pioneers of the senses.

Each perfumer has a personal attachment with the locations represented by the pods and they combined their local expertise with our proprietary palette of ingredients & technologies to create a realistic and vivid simulation of the air quality.

Discover Delhi by Avinash Mali 

Avinash Mali, a Junior Perfumer, based in Singapore, created Delhi for Pollution Pods
According to a WHO survey of 1600 world cities, the air quality in Delhi is the worst of any major city in the world. Motor vehicle emissions is one of the main culprits along with fumes from burning plastic, fires on nearby agricultural land, and the use of cow dung and crop residues for cooking.

Avinash Mali, a Junior Perfumer, based in Singapore, incorporated materials such as the waxy-smelling Dimeth Octanol to suggest chemical industry emissions, Natrotar to achieve burnt wood, and Adoxal to evoke agricultural fires. A dirty water garbage element was added via the synthetic animalic material, Skatol.

Here’s what he told us:


His Inspiration: 

Also the capital city of India, New Delhi is the largest commercial city in Northern India. In 2016, New Delhi became one of the hundred cities in India chosen by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be developed as a smart city. The government program Smart Cities Mission, launched in 2015, aims at making Indian cities friendly and sustainable. The city is already among the world's fastest changing cities, with an ability to embrace technological change, and deal with rapid population growth while strengthening global connectivity. Having said that it’s facing serious issues of pollution and now it is known as one of the world’s worst polluted city. 

We all want to contribute to our nation’s growth & recognition on a global platform. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for India inspired me to address this issue of pollution. 

His Favorite Scent Memory: 

New Delhi is really famous for its historic architectures & monuments, delectable street food and Delhi Haat, the handicraft market. My favorite olfactive memory from New Delhi is its delicious food aromas, savory to sweet. You can literally see colors while you smell food & can imagine their smells, while walking through its colorful handicraft market. For me, it’s a mix of smell & colors. 

His View on Transformation: 

Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global response. The impact of climate change is being felt by countries around the world. 2016 was the warmest year on record, and the third consecutive year that record temperatures have been set. There are so many initiatives taken globally to address the impact of climate change on humans & on our planet. Pollution Pods will definitely help people realize the actual situation of different cities in the world & how challenging is for people to survive. 

His Resolution: 

The best part of working on this project is the feeling of “I will be contributing to change the world for its one of the major concerns of existence”. And I got this opportunity through my passion of perfumery. 

The Takeaway: 

We all are aware of & experiencing negative impact of current pollution situations globally. While working on this project, these questions came to mind: “Am I equally responsible for this pollution situation? How can I change things towards sustainable future?” 

I have started paying attention on to how much waste I am generating. I have preference for “reuse,” some very simple examples – using a metal bottle for drinking water, coffee mugs, and reusable utensils - so indirectly, I am cutting down the use of plastic. Use both sides when printing or use an unused side of a page to print – you can indirectly reduce the use of paper. 

Change starts from me. I am making sure that my friends & family are following such basic changes. We all deserve safe clean & healthy surroundings to live. We all have to act now to secure safe & healthy places for our future generations. Everyone should follow reduce, reuse & recycle policy. 

The #PollutionPods Experience 

The art exhibit is currently on tour. Keep up with the latest news, events, dates and video here: michaelpinsky.com

Follow the conversation on social media: #PollutionPods

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