smellwalking in Brooklyn

Smellwalking in Brooklyn – September 2014 photograph ©Brian Harkin 2014

My name is Dr Kate McLean, an artist and designer, creator of smellmaps of cities around the world.

I work at the intersection of human-perceived smellscapes, cartography and the communication of ‘eye-invisible’ sensed data. To achieve this I lead public smellwalks internationally and translates the resulting data using digital design, watercolour, animation, scent diffusion and sculpture into smellscape mappings.

Smells form part of our knowing, but are elusive, often disappearing before they can be described pinned down. Smell experience is an invisible and currently under-presented dataset with strong connections to emotions and memory. I am part of a small but growing number of innovative practitioners committed to the study and capture of this highly nuanced sensory field.

The tools of my trade include: individual group smellwalks, individual smellwalks (the “smellfie”), smell sketching, collaborative smellwalks, graphic design, motion graphics, smell generation and smell diffusion, all united by mapmaking.

Download a copy of my DIY “smellfie” guide to smellwalking.

During 2019 I have been working with Musée de la main UNIL-CHUV and their “Quel flair” exhibition which examines the enormous sensitivity of the human sense of smell, its intimate connection to our emotions and  to create smellmaps of Lausanne which enable

As a recent PhD graduate, my thesis “Nose-first: practices of smellwalking and smellscape mapping” Information Experience Design (IED) at the Royal College of Art is available for download.

By preference I spend time outdoors; running cross-country marathons, cycling, sea-swimming or snowboarding. I am Programme Director for Graphic Design, teaching undergraduates and supervising postgraduate students at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK.