What is the importance of integrating sensory design into spatial environments?
Interior Architecture and Spatial Design is about crafting a human experience and creating humane environments. Spaces tend to trigger our senses and raise consciousness by how our senses react to the environment. Hence environments and spaces deeply affect our emotions and experiences. We need to be sensitive to the relationship of interior architecture and sensory environments.
Humans are visually dominant creatures and so it is assumed that spaces need to be visually attractive. As designers we need to make a conscious decision for design to appeal to all senses by creating a 'sensory balance' and not just focusing on the visual aspect.
A humans five main senses are vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste. As stated in the Merriam-Webster dictionary; Senses are a "specialized function or mechanism (as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch) by which an animal (or human) receives and responds to external or internal stimuli".
Each human has different sensory strengths which helps perceive and experience our understanding of each individual space. Experiences need to try and aim to be as holistic in this approach so the user can have a sense of familiarity and belonging.
Our senses are constantly triggered and our sight/vision keeps up with the pace. 80% of what we perceive at first is what we see and understand visually.
Hearing is omni-directional and although it may not seem important like vision in a space, it helps perceive the design better. Music, echoes, absence of sound are important to a space and help create the environment/mood.
Smell for example could bring back a memory of a space, stimulate an emotion, guide or distract. It can serve as a tool of identity to a specific environment.
Touch allows us to understand materiality, texture and aspects like weight, depth, temperature, softness/harshness.
Although taste is the hardest sense to appeal in spatial design it is translated through vision. Design can not literally be tasted but can trigger an oral sensation through colours, materials and textures.
When we visit a space we should ask these questions to help understand how important sensory based design is.
How do human senses influence our interaction with spaces?
What is the visual spatial experience like?
What does it feel like to touch different surfaces in the space?
What sounds reverberate in the ear or is there any absence of sound?
Does the space have a smell which stimulates something?
Does any aspect of the space translate into a taste when seen visually?
Imagine a space with a sensory overload - tight room, bright lights, loud sounds, rough surfaces, pungent smells. This can cause extreme discomfort. Hence there needs to be a balance to create a distinctive space and awareness towards different sensory channels is crucial to user behaviour and spatial experiences.
In conclusion, design needs to be interactive between the space and the users. A space needs to be able to communicate back to all the senses. As responsible designers we should take on the responsibility for design to be human-centric; understanding the thoughts, feelings and actions of users. Human interaction should allow communication with spaces through sensory based design.