Last month, luxury kitchen brand Gaggenau hosted an immersive event that transported the senses transported by Mayra Sérgio’s shelter of Brazilian-coffee bricks.

Sérgio’s performative installation Sensorial Shelter turns the Brazilian-born designer’s olfactory memory of home into a kind of architecture; a sensual and spatial familiarization of the foreign. ‘Food has the power to overcome a strange space, transforming it into a place of belonging through its highly evocative power to make one feel physically at home,’ says the designer.

As Sérgio says, familiar smells and tastes have the power to transcend feelings of alienation, but the evocative power of food also works in the reverse. For the guests at the Gaggenau showroom who had never been to Brazil, Sérgio’s Sensorial Shelter was an immersive experience of an exotic land; the aroma of Brazilian coffee a chemical trigger that directly impacted the physical self.

‘My installation-cum-performance Sensorial Shelter began as an investigation into what invokes a sense of belonging in people,’ says Sérgio. Born in Rio de Janerio, Sérgio studied Cinema and worked as a set designer in Brazil before moving to the Netherlands in search for a deeper form of narrative. ‘I came to Amsterdam seeking to develop a more haptic language; to be able to invite the body into my work through smell, texture and movement,’ says Sérgio.

‘Arriving in Amsterdam [to study at Gerrit Rietveld Acadamie] wasn’t easy, and for some time I found it important to keep a supply of Brazilian coffee in my cupboard. A mug of coffee made me feel more at home than something like architecture, for example.’

Describing her approach to design as one that transforms process, material, and tools into a form of storytelling, Sérgio applies her sense of scenography and Dutch approach to the creative process and material research gained through her studies at Gerrit Rietveld Acadamie to the Sensorial Shelter for Gaggenau.

‘In a world overloaded by products, stories allow brands to connect on an emotional level with the public,’ she adds. ‘I am especially excited to show Sensorial Shelter in London because of England’s architectural tradition in brickwork. In dialogue with that heritage, the coffee bricks are arranged using English bond, the oldest form of brickwork. I believe that bringing innovation and tradition together translates the spirit of London well.’

Following a reception of drinks as well as sweet and savoury hors d'oeuvres with infusions and flavours of coffee, Stephen Brownless, sales director of Gaggenau UK, introduced Sérgio and directed guests to her Sensorial Shelter installation.

‘Gaggenau is taking something as traditional and familiar as drinking coffee to the next level’, says Sérgio of her work which provides a poetic perspective of coffee culture on the occasion of the new fully automatic 200 and 400 series Gaggenau espresso machines released earlier this year.

At the end of the evening, guests received a personalized silk-screen print with ‘coffee ink’ on 100% cotton paper. The ink was developed by Sérgio herself using a unique Gaggenau blend of coffee beans.

As well as the performative installation in the Gaggenau London, Sérgio will also be touring Europe throughout 2017, exhibiting in Amsterdam at the Tijdelijk Museum and the Radion, as well as the Venture Lembrate in Milan, Talente 2017 in Munich and Object at Art Rotterdam Week.

Mayra Sérgio’s Sensorial Shelter can be experienced in Gaggenau’s flagship London showroom until 24 August 2017.

Location 40 Wigmore St, Marylebone, London W1U 2RX, UK