Taste as Experience Design
The New York Times dining section has an interesting article today on “flavor tripping.” It’s a fantastically pure example of experience design. There’s apparently a West African berry called miracle fruit that alters the body’s sense of taste; making everything taste sweet. People in New York City are paying to attend parties centered around this altered perception — drinking vinegar and tabasco sauce and munching on radishes and lemons — simply for the experience.
I was immediately reminded of the Olafur Eliasson exhibit I attended a few months ago. His Room for One Colour piece was designed to alter visual perception. I remember thinking that taste was the only sense his exhibit didn’t attempt to manipulate. Flavor tripping would be a perfect complement.
It’s worth taking a moment to note why this is such a pure example of experience design:
- Experience is intrinsic to the event; the party is centered around the act of savoring.
- It’s impossible to benefit from “flavor tripping” second-hand. You have to experience it for yourself.
- There’s a clearly articulated beginning, middle and end (the effect lasts about two hours).
- People are paying admission simply to take part.
- It’s an indelibly memorable event.