Using taste, smell and sound to create a safe space.
12th of Feb this year saw the launch of Studio H’s latest project, FOOD XX. Imagine hanging out with a group of your closest girlfriends to chat about everything that you cannot talk about at the office or at home – that’s kind of what FOOD XX wants to be for womxn in the South African food and drinks industry. The whole idea about FOOD XX is that we talk about current injustices and find solutions together, whilst simultaneously redressing exclusion and tokenism of womxn in the past.
The day was carefully planned with a bunch of collaborators with the main aim to create a space where womxn would feel safe and comfortable to let their guards down. Various sensory triggers and installations were used throughout the day to achieve this.
A bread installation in collaboration with the District Six Museum focused on the unifying power of food. District Six is a former inner-city residential area in Cape Town, where over 60,000 of its inhabitants were forcibly removed during the 1970s by the apartheid regime. Different types of bread (steam bread, mosbolletjies, raisin bread, bakbread and bagels) were displayed, each linked to a personal story by a former resident from District Six. Breads, wrapped in cloth the traditional way, were connected with string so that at least two people were needed to access bread without it falling on the ground.
Bread Installation / Smell Installation
The perfumer Tammy Frazer worked with us to develop a smell installation at the entrance of the venue. Zig-zagged paper curtains were installed as turnstiles and perfumed with a bespoke perfume reminiscent of our mothers. Tammy’s perfume, Universalis, contained top notes of vanilla, the most typically pleasant smell with universal appeal. This can be explained by the fact that vanilla is a volatile flavour component of human breast milk as well as many milk formulas. Vanilla is associated not only with warmth, softness and caring, but also has connotations of purity and simplicity. Other fragrance notes included cocoa butter, coconut, vanilla and almond. It was also important that all the fragrance notes were edible flavours.
The conference was opened by clinical psychologist Carly Abramowitz with a mindfulness exercise to be used as a tool to combat stress, anxiety and mental fatigue. A bite of Intention chocolate (vegan superfood chocolates based on the intention to love your body through what you eat), guided guests to come back into their bodies and out of their heads, into the present moment.
Don’t Panic Room / Intention Chocolates
Studio H and VISI magazine worked with Johannesburg-based chef Khanya Mzongwana, who focuses on cooking for mental wellness to design a (Don’t) Panic Room – a space where delegates could take a quiet mental break from the proceedings. The room was fitted out with plush soft carpets and seating, anti-anxiety mind exercise and grounding techniques, a special brain food menu, a calming sound track and a haze of pink lighting.