Female mosquito illustration 2009, Credits: Mónica Santos

Am I attractive? prototype development

Am I attractive? concept testing at Rothamsted Research, UK

Am I attractive? Southbank Centre, London, Pestival 2009

Am I attractive? Southbank Centre, London, Pestival 2009

Am I attractive? / Project

The Why me? research team became interested on how the body odours from certain people naturally repel midges and mosquitoes, which could explain why some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. 

Am I attractive? is playfully used to assess our scent attractiveness to mosquitoes.

The piece, could be as well used as a lab tool, is part of a strategy to use Design as a collaborative and mediated tool between the abstraction of research and the public. In this space Design is changing from form giver to fundamental interpreter, stimulating debate, challenging outputs and encouraging public participation.

PESTIVAL – Southbank Centre, London, 2009

Why are some people more attractive than others?

Mosquitoes are attracted to certain chemical compounds in human scent. Unattractive" individuals give off different chemical signals compared to "attractive" individuals.

The research suggests that differential attractiveness is due to compounds in unattractive individuals that switch off attraction either by acting as repellents or by masking the attractant components of human odour.

Mesh detail: people place their hand next to the mesh to find out how attractive they are to mosquitoes bites, assessing the risk of contracting malaria.


How it works

Mosquitoes are placed in a spherical container with a constant air flow. Two individuals place their hands in opposite sides of the object and within seconds the insects will invariable fly towards the most attractive scent.

Project aims:

  • To create a tool to raise awareness to malaria research;
  • Develop a new playful interaction between public and mosquitoes;
  • Tweak people’s perceptions in relation to insects.


Rothamsted Research: Dr. James Logan
Pestival: Ms. Bridget Nicholls
» EXD - Experimenta Design


Rothamsted Research: Dr. James Logan and James Cook

Designer: Andrew Forkes

Electronic Engineer: Chris Merridan

Communication Designer: Mónica Santos


Susana Soares