Amplifier is a multisensory tasting event, cross-pollinating Portland’s all-star mixologists with exceptional sound and visual designers. The event was held at the Jupiter Next Hotel Thursday April 11th during Design Week Portland, and attendees were guided through sensory immersion rooms in small groups of ten.
Curators Ethan Rose of Parallel Studio, Blake Shell of Disjecta, and Marilee Sweeney of Gastronaut Design matched up three teams of a mixologist, a sound designer, and a visual artist. They asked these teams to explore how sound and visual design can be used to amplify the experience of taste and deepen sensory experience as a whole. The nine collaborators dove into experiential design together, creating three distinct sensory immersion rooms wrapped around a featured cocktail.
For the first team collaboration meeting, Emily Mistell of Hey Love, Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common, and Leah Brown of Angel Face created a cocktail for their teams to taste, with the only restriction that they work with an Oregon distillery. The sound artists and visual artists were then asked to create environments that respond to the taste of the cocktail they were presented. We caught photos of the team’s initial collaboration and drink tasting session and share them below. Photos of the teams by Jordan Hughes.
“Sound is transformative – it is charting new directions in the future of experiential and environmental design” – Sound curator Ethan Rose.
Team for immersion room one, meeting at Hey Love. Mixologist Emily Mistell of Hey Love, Visual Artist Alyson Provax, Sound Artist Marcus Fischer.
“Emily’s cocktail has a very warm, cozy feeling, and I’m reiterating that experience in my tactile choices. It’s been really wonderful to connect with Marcus and Emily on this project. We have been echoing each other and reiterating feelings. Our collaboration will be a soft experience, something to wrap yourself up in and snuggle into.” – Artist Alyson Provax
Team for immersion room two, meeting at Angel Face. Mixologist Leah Brown of Angel Face, Visual Artist Manu Torres, Sound Artist Clint Snow. Also pictured curator Marilee Sweeney and organizer Demi Hanes.
“Through dense layers of celesta, organ, Rhodes piano, voice, violin, woodwinds, synthesized pulses, field recordings (deep ocean, thunder and crickets), wood scraps, ceramic cups, pops, clicks, branches and leaves, I designed a piece focused on richness, texture and complexity. The blooming layers are meant to support and reflect the cocktail created by Leah Brown and the visual work of Manu Torres.” -Sound Artist Clint Snow
“Over the past few years environmental designers have taken us to this next level with visual and tactile experience in retail and restaurant environments. So there is a challenge for them now—how do you create a memorable experience in a field where everything is already gorgeous? We are exploring what happens if you wrap sound, visuals, and tastes into one integrated design process from the start.”-Event curator Marilee Sweeney
Team for room three, meeting at Clyde Common. Mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common, Visual Artist DB Amorin, Sound Artist Amenta Abioto. Curator pictured, Ethan Rose.
“Coming from an interior architecture design background, it is always super exciting for me to get into the process whenever I can. This project, in particular, resonates with me because it involves the built and aural environments, which are two of my lifelong passions.”
-Mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler
Portrait of Amenta Abioto by Lyudmila Zotova.
Amenta Abioto is a singer, songwriter, and producer from Memphis, TN. From soul-shaking gospel to smooth jazz, she builds vocal and instrumental loops from kalimba, synthesizer, drum machine, and guitar, creating atmospheric textures which surprise and tantalize. Her music is boldly mystical and soul-fired, and her raw live performances envoke elements of both theatrical surprise and magic through ancient African diasporic sounds and stories.
DB Amorin is an artist from Honolulu, Hawai’i, currently living and working in Portland, OR. He works within video, expanded audio, and multimedia installation, drawing upon DIY methodologies and noise aesthetics to create mediated experiences. His work has been supported with awards from several granting organizations, and his visual art and curatorial programming have been exhibited nationwide from San Francisco to Portland, to Hawai’i.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is an award-winning bartender and author of the first book devoted entirely to cocktail technique: Tales of the Cocktail’s American Bartender of the Year” (2016). He currently manages the James Beard Award-nominated bar program at Clyde Common, and the celebrated Pépé le Moko. Forbes called Morgenthaler one of the “Cocktail Movers and Shakers” (2007), Playboy named him one of the top ten mixologists in the United States (2009), and Food & Wine Magazine named him one of the ten most influential bartenders of the past decade (2014).
Marcus Fischer is a first generation American interdisciplinary artist and musician based in Portland, Oregon. His work typically centers around memory, geography, and the manipulation of physical audio recording media. These sounds have found their way into multimedia installations, short films, and even the award-winning public radio program Radiolab.
Alyson Provax is a text artist interested in language, feelings, and memory. She has shown regionally at Wolff Gallery, Upfor Gallery, Bridge Productions, The Vestibule, and the Whatcom Museum, nationally at A.I.R. Gallery and The Untitled Space in New York, and internationally at the Blueproject Foundation in Barcelona. Her work has been published in Poetry Northwest and Eleven Eleven, and her first book will be published this year by Volumes Volumes.
Emily Mistell is co-owner and mixologist at Hey Love. She brings an unparalleled level of expertise and over a decade of hustle in curating Portland cocktails. Her work as bar manager at Portland’s helped it earn the title of “One of the Best Bars in America” by Esquire.
Manu Torres is an artist based in Portland, Oregon. His floral arrangements often involve a dialogue between the artificial and the natural, incorporating paper, fabric, paint, and feathers to imitate and exaggerate natural beauty in a hyper-real way. His work has been featured in Elle Decor, which said, “Manu’s exotic floral cocktails express the fullness of the Baroque style with a modern touch.”
Leah Brown is the manager of one of Portland’s finest cocktail bars, Angel Face. She specializes in classic cocktails and loves all things rum and mezcal. Her bespoken cocktail program at Angel Face is sizeable and refined, referencing more than 300 cocktails without an offering a menu to guests. Leah also teaches community classes on liquor history, individual spirits, and cocktail development.
Clint Snow is a sound designer, composer, and songwriter based in Portland, Oregon. Through the use of sound, Snow explores the ways in which the experiences of daily living can be transformed into an invitation to be present and delighted. He currently works creating sound design and music for commercial clients including Nike, Google, Schmidt’s, Adidas, REI, and the Portland Timbers.
Curator Ethan Rose, photo by Jesse Mejía
“This is a chance for people who are working in design to open up and consider other ways that you can create experiences, consider the ways in which you can develop an idea using a sensory experience. We thought it might be interesting to invert the process a little bit and have the beverage be the center of the storytelling experience and have all the rest of the design elements responding to that.”-Ethan Rose, sound curator
Blake Shell, photo Eric Mellencamp.
“The lines between different areas of creativity are becoming increasingly blurred. Interdisciplinary design is the mode of today and the future. So the more designers can think in multi-faceted ways about their work—and bring in different disciplines and communities—the more it’ll benefit their careers. I am personally excited about having three radically different experiences back to back. Each room you enter, you get the full sensation of the artists the mixologists and the sound designers all focusing on one theme. Because everybody in Portland is really interested in food and drink, and because sometimes the different areas of creativity we pinpoint as design or as sound or as fine arts don’t overlap, giving so many different creative people and the audience getting the chance to experience all of those things all in one night-it’s a really exciting event to be a part of.”-Curator Blake Shell
We’re excited to see the Portland community come together and experience this multisensory collaboration. Thank you to all the awesome businesses that have lent their support to make this event shine! Cheers to @wacom_experience_center for presenting the event, to @jupiterhotel for hosting us, @satisandfy_usa and @meyerproinc for donating equipment, @mylilunderground for supplying the balcony sounds, to local distilleries @clearcreekdistillery and @cannonbeachdistillery for providing the liquor, to @swissrosti for providing the food, and to @lithographix, and @neenahpaper for providing the printed materials.
Special Thanks to our lead volunteers and mentors: Eric Mellencamp, Demi Hanes, Jeremy Pelley, Katie Lane, Megan Davies, Jeanine Racht, Lily Martin-Chamberlain,Tanith Yates, Maria Nocenti, Salvador Orara, the Jupiter Hotel team, the Design Week Portland team and AIGA Portland Board members.
Graphics by Gastronaut Design.
Hosted by AIGA Portland, and Design Portland with visual curation by Blake Shell of Disjecta, sound curation by Ethan Rose of Parallel Studio, libations curation by Marilee Sweeney of Gastronaut Design. Photos of the creative process by Jordan Hughes. Thanks to our sponsors Wacom, Clear Creek Distillery, Cannon Beach Distillery, Lithographix, Neenah, The Jupiter Hotel, Swiss Rosti, Meyer Pro, and Satis Fi. Graphics by Gastronaut Design. Additional thanks to photographer Darius Kusmikas for event photography and to Thomas Mosier for our balcony lounge sounds.