Today people’s attention span is at an all-time low; winning over consumers relies on a blend of new experiences and practicality that can puncture through our current “always-on” culture. Yet when a business builds a new space or revamps an existing one, the senses aren’t often considered as a route to gaining this desired attention. Taking a multi-sensory approach to design will thrust your company to new heights and leave customers wanting more. But why are the senses so fundamental?
Award-winning Irish designers, Millimetre Design, and its Managing Director, Ronan Holohan, explore the importance of the senses in design, and why they should be fundamental in your design partner’s approach in this upcoming series, “Detailed by Design”.
The Importance of Being Sensory
In the constrained business of design, we have four walls to work with and 2 objectives to achieve – to get people into the space, and to get those same people to enjoy their experience of that space.
But achieving these objectives is about more than just bricks and mortar, and even beyond the colour of a wall; the science behind the senses, and their effect on consumer attraction and company reputation can make or break your design approach and ultimately your business’ success.
Making Sense of the Science Behind Our Senses
Our senses go hand-in-hand with our emotions; our individual perceptions may differ, but the power of the senses over our emotional wellbeing remains.
In fact, this emotional relationship between the senses begins in the womb. At birth, new-borns have already developed a robust sensory awareness, inextricably tying our emotions to the senses. A certain scent could jolt us back to a happy childhood memory; our sense of hearing could lead to a song and its tempo having an immediate effect on our mood. And when an individual lacks the capacity for a certain sense for whatever reason, this can also have a direct impact on their emotional wellbeing.
Interwoven entirely, our senses dictate how we can feel about something, moulding our emotions around what we see, smell, touch, hear or taste. Even Google has scientifically proven that multi-sensory design can neuroaesthetically impact a person’s wellbeing. So, what can taking the senses more seriously in your design do for your business?
Consumer or Talent Attraction and Retention
It cannot be denied; a well-designed building that looks great and serves its purpose will work for your business. But will it always attract your consumer or keep your employee productive? And moreover, will it draw a consumer or job candidate back?
The senses add that extra piece to the puzzle, fulfil the finer details of a well-thought design and offer an additional experience which will produce lasting memories and impact.
Whether it’s the ambience of a restaurant, the branded but operational space of an office, or the sensual atmosphere of a spa produced by curated smells, you can manipulate the senses for your business; not only attract but retain consumers, enticing them back to enjoy the experience again in the full knowledge that they will smell, see, taste, feel and hear something different each visit. Equally, great design will improve workplace wellbeing and instil brand values.
Taking the senses seriously doesn’t just enhance your ability to attract and retain consumers or talent, but as a result, your business’ reputation will experience a boost with word-of-mouth reputation growth.
We’ve all seen those harsh TripAdvisor reviews. Maybe your business has had the unfortunate luck of being on the receiving end of one. The room was too hot; the venue too noisy; the views were restricted. Senses and personal perceptions make up a considerable portion of the experience an individual will have with a space. The degree to which your business takes them seriously may result in a poor word-of-mouth exchange or an unpleasant online review.
In this age of instant digital disruption, there are no hiding places for a poorly designed venue. Enhance your business’ reputation the right way and ensure the senses are an incremental part of your design.
Design, the Millimetre Way
At Millimetre Design, we believe the senses should be interwoven into all aspects and elements that make up the design process.
From an initial brief to project implementation, your design partner should not only create a bespoke solution that meets your needs and delivers for your company, but a design process enhanced at all stages by an awareness and understanding of the senses.
Note the plural; the senses should not be addressed individually, but instead treated interdependently and allowed to compliment and reinforce the desired feelings your business wishes to invoke in customers and users.
We have already seen the primitive emotional link that began in the womb to our senses. Taking this link seriously and implementing a multi-sensory approach to design will make a significant difference for your staff or customers, offering them something aesthetically and experientially fresh in a realm saturated with anything and everything.
From our manipulation of the sense of sight in the rebirth of iconic Dublin venue, Café En Seine, our unique awareness of touch behind our design of the Westin Hotel’s Premier Suites, or our practical rejuvenation of Allianz offices from corporate to agile, the senses remain incremental in everything that we do for our clients.