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Dessine moi un arc-en-ciel ("Draw me a rainbow") is an olfactory installation that invites visitors to explore the concept of color beyond its visual dimension. Much more than a simple visual attribute, colors carry in them a vast universe of symbols and mental associations acquired over time. Culture, religion, language along with personal sensory experiences and memories are all elements that affect our perception of colors as concepts and allow us to give them meaning.

Kosmatopoulos worked with visually impaired participants and perfumers to create a scent for each of the seven colors of the rainbow. Each participant focused on one color and, guided by the perfumer and the artist, engaged in an internal exploration of the color’s universe: imagining its texture, temperature, taste, smell; sharing key words and personal stories that were then used by the perfume expert to turn the words into odors.

The title refers to the famous phrase repeated over and over by the little Prince in the book of Saint Exupéry, "please...draw me a sheep". Like the narrator in the Little Prince, Dessine moi un arc-en-ciel proposes to put the colors inside "imaginary boxes". The minimal almost-clinical white space of the installation deprives visitors from the all-too-obvious visual dimension of colors, and invites them to engage into their own personal olfactory journey into the world of colors.

The purpose of the project is not to create a universal smell of colors but to encourage viewers to engage in an internal travel in time and space through the odors that will revive olfactory memories - memories about childhood, travels, readings, dreams and loved ones... attached to their personal history – opening a dialogue freed from any visual limitation. Going through this immersive experience, the question remains: “What colors means to me?”

The piece was originally commissioned by the Museum Louis Braille (France) and created with the support of the foundation Givaudan.

Installation view

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