Recipe for Stillness (exhibition)

Posted Feb. 15, 2016 by Maja Kuzmanović

Several visitors to the Stillness exhibition asked us how we go about designing such a multisensory experience, so here's our 'recipe'...

stillness exhibition

Begin with an inspiring starting point: Stillness photos by Nik Gaffney

Pick the right team: Nik Gaffney, Maja Kuzmanovic, Stevie Wishart, Rasa Alksnyte (with assistance from Pieter, Jura and Faust de Wel)

Invite the team experiment with raw ingredients: photos, sounds, scents, tastes, light, architecture, etc.

Design the flow of experience (spatial and temporal):

To design the flow, think about your visitors: how will they arrive; what kind of moods, (e)motions or activities do you want them to experience as 'stillness';  when they leave, what 'aftertaste' should the event leave in their minds and bodies?  If you were the visitor, what kinds of experiences would encourage such sensations? How would you create these experiences? What materials do you need? How would they be arranged (in time and space) so that the flow would ease the visitors into the 'stillness' experience. It can help to identify different stages/phases and/or spaces the visitors might go through.

Continue the iterative process of experimenting and redesigning to the flow until you're satisfied (or until the event is over).

The stillness flow: ingredients and actions

Threshold - decelerate

  • Milky oolong tea
  • Anise essential oil
  • Hand rubs: Cedar wood powder; Fresh thyme, rosemary and sage leaves
  • Refraction of Stillness videos

Invite the visitors to sit down and rub their hands with scented leaves and/or powders. Offer them a glass of warm, slowly unfurling oolong tea.

Gallery - explore

  • Stillness photos in a range of formats, on walls, tables and a screen
  • Triptych sounds on table speakers
  • Live improvisation for hurdy-gurdy, mouth harps, hands and soles
  • Woody and spiced essential oils (herbs, spices, citrus, wood)

Invite the visitors freely roam through the gallery at their own pace. Fill the room with enticing scents and sounds that inspire stillness.

Greenhouse - unfold

  • Stillness books
  • Stillness videos (On inception and subsiding, In praise of shadows)
  • Live improvisation for hurdy-gurdy, hands and tea utensils
  • Botanical lighting
  • Scents: Cedar wood smoke, sage and rosemary mist
  • Seating and laying arrangements

After exploring stillness in photos and sounds, create an immersive experience of stillness.  Create a calm and somewhat ethereal atmosphere, and invite the visitors to lay or lounge, absorbing the sound, light, scent and architecture. Offer refreshments to make the visitors feel invigorated, warm and welcome.


  • Smoked mussel consommé
  • Herbs and roots consommé (celeriac,parsnip, fennel, orange peel, sage and rosemary)
  • Dates marinated in coffee and spices (cardamom, cinnamon, pepper), stuffed with tahini paste and sprinkled with cacao nibs
  • Savoury black sesame crackers
  • Sweet white sesame crackers
  • Black tea (Lapsang souchong)
  • Green tea  (Gyokuro)
  • Tim Adams Tempranillo
  • Grant Burge Pinot Grigio
  • Pear juice

Exit - release

  • Candied ginger
  • Crystallised thyme
  • Doing Nothing cards (and other FoAM parting gifts, such as Thriving in Uncertainty, Verlangen om te kunnen omdenken, Borrowed Scenery cards, etc.)

Ease the visitors back in the world with something to remember us by - an intense taste that will linger for a while, graphical mementos encouraging stillness in daily life and a warm farewell...

For more photographic impressions: see the Stillness album