Polymorf (NL)

Famous Deaths

Famous Deaths recreates a famous person’s last few living minutes by using scent and sound. Smell the fate of Diana, or the last gasp of Whitney Houston. Stripped of visual stimuli, the smell scenarios provide an intimate and personal experience.

While odour plays a crucial role in the formation of memories, it is rarely used in art and media. Fascinated by the effects of smell, designers Frederick Duerinck and Marcel Brakel of Polymorph developed the concept for Famous Deaths. The duo did extensive research to establish the final moments as accurate as possible. For example, they analysed police records and pictures of Whitney Houston’s death scene. From this information they found out the cigarettes she smoked, what brand of perfume she wore, and that she used olive oil as bath oil. Want to experience the scenario itself? You can at STRP Biennial 2017 by lying in one of the special morgue coffins. Completely isolated you become immersed in one of the 4-minute documentary soundscapes and it’s complementary sequence of fragrances.


Famous Deaths is designed by Polymorf for Communication and Multimedia Design (CMD) Breda at AVANS University of Applied science as part of the SENSE OF SMELL research project.

Polymorf is: Marcel van Brakel, Frederik Duerinck, Wander Eikelboom, Mark Meeuwenoord and Peter Boonstra.

Additional Design team: Thijs Eerens, Simon Kentgens, Paul van ‘t Hullenaar, Martijn de Ruiter, Iris de Brouwer, Thomas Neelemans, Kirsten Pollè, Daan Rijnkels, Marcel Boonman, Thomas Huster.

Massive thanks to: IFF, Matthias Tabert. Illustration: Paul van ‘t Hullenaar. Website: Edwin Kuipers.