Berenice Smith, MA graphic designer and stained glass artist

A designer and creative exploring social communication through design. Past projects include visual representations of synaesthesia and developing a typeface based on a rural vernacular.

Synaesthesia: what flavour are you?

The term synesthesia is applied to a cognitive state where responses to sensory attributes trigger cognitive sensations that cross the senses. There are nineteen reported types. Category synesthesia forces an over stimulus of the natural human ability to categorise. Numbers, letters or names can be associated with smells, colour or flavour. A synesthete might see colours during conversation or view letters as colours regardless of the colour in which they are presented. This is termed grapheme-colour synesthesia and affects 1 in forty-two people [Sean A. Day, 2013]. Higher syntesthetes sense colour with abstract numerical concepts or hear music from unusual sources such as domestic appliances. Colour relates to abstract numerical patterns visualised in days of the week or months of the year known as calendar synesthetes  [Ramachandran and Brang, 2008].

To what extent can I share my experience of synesthesia through a visual outcome that allows an insight into the condition and an online resource that inspires discussion between synesthetes and non-synesthetes.

I anticipate a need for this project to serve to bridge the gap between people with these cognitive senses and those who do not. I want to explore elements of synesthesia which cause problems in the ‘real world’, and find a design or graphic representation will allow a non-synesthete to experience the cognitive responses of a synesthete. I would like to develop a resource of material to enable communication and discussion.