What’s that smell?

My good friend Mike Cougill has made another insightful post, on finding the “magic bullet“. But regular commenter Matt has provided a blinding observation on the need to find the right inspiration.

When it comes to layouts, I have no problem coming up with designs – got them coming out of my ears, to be honest (as several unfortunate friends can no doubt attest*, and indeed do) – but I find myself inspired by three or four different themes, each mutually exclusive, each identically time-consuming. Each appealing for for different reasons, and none getting ahead of the others by a large enough margin to square the circle.

Finding that spark is the hard bit: unlike layout design issues where “analysis paralysis” can take hold, this is more fundamental. Emotional constipation?

What fires me up the most? Sound and movement and smell. Movement is about quality of construction, leading to smoothness of motion and not quantity of “operation”. Sound is relatively simple to arrange with high quality digital systems, although I wonder if a duplicate sound card should be driving a sub baseboard woofer – just a few watts. But smell?

Yes. Smell.

It’s the smell which stumps me. It is the most evocative sense when it comes to memory, yet we pay so little attention to it. I have no desire to sit inhaling the fumes of a dirty diesel engine as it revs up after idling for a few minutes (I am not suicidally pre-disposed in my modelling!) but if I could somehow generate just a hint of that odour, I would be transported back to my teenage years. (The slightly acrid smell of steam engine smoke, on the other hand, I tend to find a little off-putting.)

When I find my muse, I’ll let you know: I will also be able to blog about modelling, rather than philosophising about it!

* What they don’t know, is just how many plans they don’t see…