Last week saw the launch of Sky Atlantic's 'The Drama Kitchen'; a four-day pop-up takeaway offering 12 dishes, each mirroring one of their new or award winning shows airing in 2017. The menu had been curated by Duck & Waffles' Dan Doherty, and each dish had been specifically designed to be eaten with it's corresponding show, thus heightening the viewing and eating experience. For example, Game of Thrones is known for confusing our allegiances with each episode thus the dish, a seven-dish taster menu, confused our taste-buds with each bite. The Twin Peaks dish had a crumb made of coffee, known to release cortisol, which is the reaction of the body under stressful circumstance, adding tension whilst watching an already nail biting show.
'The Drama Kitchen' is the latest example of 'Sensploration'; the act of stimulating multiple senses in new and unusual ways to enhance the overall experience.
Consumers are increasingly curious to explore their own sensory world (or 'sensorium') and the hidden connections that can be found within each and every one of us. By developing multisensory experiences that are built on the surprising, almost synaesthetic, connections between the senses it is possible to develop shared (and shareable) multi-sensory experiences. As one commentator put it, 'As consumers grow evermore weary of constant digital bombardment, they seek out more authentic experiences to immerse themselves with a brand'.
Just think of Tate Sensorium at Tate London: four paintings from the permanent collection to be experienced while the viewer's other senses stimulated by scents, sounds, virtual touch, and even specially created chocolates. The experience is undoubtedly novel, it is very definitely multi-sensory, and more importantly it is both memorable and shareable. There is a huge hunger for such innovative multi-sensory experience design. Design, note, that is less about stimulating the senses in order to sell more (as in 'the experience economy') but rather about offering consumers the opportunity to connect their senses in new and unusual ways.
Secret cinema fits in with this trend to combine different sensory elements, as does the rise of multi-sensory dining concepts such as Synaesthesia by Kitchen Theory, and top multisensory dining at restaurants such as Paul Pairet's Ultraviolet in Shanghai, and Paco Roncero's Sublimotion in Ibiza. This is total experience design where every one of the senses is stimulated simultaneously. Such specially curated experiences can be expensive though. So, for me, the really exciting thing is to see how many food and drinks brands are now becoming interested in delivering their own versions of the sensorium.
With Sky Atlantic's latest venture into 'Sensploration', I think it's safe to say it's a trend that's here to stay. The question is, which brand will do what next?