CHOCO-PHONICA:

CHOCOLATE IN CULTURE & PERCEPTION

Cultural and Semiotic Insight specialists Space Doctors announce their collaboration with culinary creatives Bompas & Parr on Choco-Phonica – an experiential installation exploring chocolate through sound and taste. Choco-Phonica’s audiences will be taking part in an innovative experiment into how culture impacts taste perception designed in conjunction with University of Oxford. Choco-Phonica opens to the public on Friday 23th October in the British Museum of Food located in Borough Market.

Space Doctors on-going innovation in methodological approaches to understanding cultural meaning, how it is created and communicated, makes the collaboration with Bompas and Parr a perfect opportunity to collect experimental data to inform their work.

Cato Hunt, Director of Innovation of Space Doctors: “What we learn from the interplay between Choco-Phonica’s cultural soundscapes and taste experiences will help us shape our understanding of how brands can use the senses to create more meaningful and memorable brand experiences. We know that the senses have a powerful role to play in shaping brand perception, but it’s a new area of exploration. We’ve needed to develop our own hypotheses and methodologies in order to stay ahead of emerging client demand, by drawing on many inter-related fields – from semiotics, cognitive science, design theory, anthropology and experience design.

The notion that perception and memory can be influenced by the ‘sounds’, which represent cultural associations is an intriguing one – and we believe this to be the first experiment of its kind. This marks the beginning of new and fundamental understanding around brands as cultural entities.”

Space Doctors have collaborated with sound experts Nathanael Williams (www.soundandmeaning.com) and Dom James to create four themed soundscapes each bringing together sonic fragments that literally or emotionally connect us to the many meanings of chocolate from the homely to the exotic, the natural to the fantastical. The multi-sensory experiment is conducted in conjunction with Professor Charles Spence and Qian (Janice) Wang from University of Oxford’s Experimental Psychology Department. Visitors will participate by assessing four chocolates specially selected by Hotel Chocolat associated with each soundscape.

The data will help draw conclusions on how cultural meaning can impact sensory perception, desire and recall of the chocolate experience.