Visiting researcher in Flavoria: Noor Fajrina Farah Istiani

From January to March this year, we had the pleasure of hosting a visiting doctoral researcher, Noor Fajrina Farah Istiani, from the University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Italy. Noor is an interior architect and a doctoral researcher at SENS i-Lab, a human-centered, multi-physical and multi-purpose laboratory for the creation, development, prototyping, and interaction of humans with physical and virtual environments and systems, and she conducted an interesting pilot study in Flavoria’s Aistikattila. In this post, we will let Noor share her experiences about her stay and University of Turku.

About me

Name: Noor Fajrina Farah Istiani
University: University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Italy, Department of Architecture and Industrial Design
Background: Interior Architect
Research topic:
Multisensory Design in the Indoor Environment on the Perception of Healthy Food and Beverage (MIDEHLT)
Duration of stay in Turku: 3 months, from January to March 2024
Facilities used in Flavoria: multisensory research space Aistikattila

How I ended up in Turku and Aistikattila

I have been working on my PhD topic, Multisensory Design in the Indoor Environment on the Perception of Healthy Food and Beverage (MIDEHLT), since 2022, with the aim of understanding and enhancing the relationship between sensory stimuli, indoor environmental factors, and food taste and mouthfeel perception.

I came to Turku as a visiting researcher to collaborate with the University of Turku’s Nutrition and Food Research Center and to conduct experiments on how visual animation, indoor lighting, and music sound affect the perception and consumption of healthy food and beverages in Aistikattila, the multisensory laboratory in Flavoria.

As my topic is about the multisensory design in the context of dining environments, I was trying to look up where I can apply my design experiment in the real restaurant setting, and surprisingly, Flavoria and specifically Aistikattila was the first suggestion when I typed “multisensory restaurant laboratory”. Also, luckily, I have this opportunity from my university in Italy to do a visiting period abroad for 3 months. I reached out to the Flavoria scientific committee and got accepted to do my research here in the University of Turku.

My study set up is about the multisensory design in immersive environment on the taste perception of healthy food and beverage. We did two pilot studies during my three months research here and will do the actual study in the summer. Aistikattila offers a unique immersive environment and incorporates multisensory aspects into the dining scene. I’m looking forward to seeing the final outcomes, as our preliminary results from the pilot already look intriguing!

Freezing first impression about Turku

I arrived in Turku on the first week of January when the temperature was -21 degrees. It was totally cold for me as I was coming from Napoli, where the winter temperature on that day was like 15 degrees. I am originally Indonesian, so I am sure that my body was designed for tropical temperature. At the time I think it was the most amount of snow that I have ever seen in my life. At first, it was a bit tough for me, but knowing that the colleagues here are so nice, considerate, and helpful, I felt so welcome and included.

I also met a lot of international students here in Turku who made me feel like home. As a city, Turku is compact and very easy to navigate. I spent most of my weekends walking by the Aura River, visiting museums (especially Turku Art Museum and Aboa Vetus), meeting new friends through the student network, tasting new food from the Market Hall, and doing day trips to other cities nearby, like Helsinki and Tampere. I realized that three months is a short time, and I still have some items left on my “Finland check list”. Hopefully I can do them later in the warmer months during the summer research period.

Tips for other visiting researchers

Don’t be afraid to reach out! During my stay in Turku, I learned that starting the conversation is key, both in the working and social context. I remember the first time I reached out to the Flavoria scientific committee and asked if it was possible to do my research here in Turku, and amazingly, the response was so fast and the process of moving to Finland was so smooth. I am happy that everything here in Finland is so efficient. Also in the working context, being able to express your thoughts in an equal way and having open discussions with colleagues is something that I appreciate a lot here.

Moreover, reaching out to the student network and community helped me a lot for my social life during my stay here. University of Turku offered a lot of program that I could join to meet new people and to get to know the city with locals. For example, there is the Turku friendship programme and university’s buddy program (the program also gave you a museum ticket for free). Finally, I am so happy and content spending my three months visiting research period here in Turku and hope I can enjoy the city and the people more during the warmer and nicer days in August.

Thank you, Noor, for sharing your experiences as a visiting researcher in Flavoria! We look forward having you back in August to complete your research.

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