Multi-sensory design can best be described as an approach to design that encompasses a full experience, one that radiates the desired essence or vibe of a brand using sound, sight, touch, smell, and even taste. Over the past several decades entertainment, retail, and commercial companies have adapted this approach and implemented it to express the brand’s identity and create a lasting impression with its customers. Similarly, it is important for the workplace. While aesthetics and being ‘on-brand’ represent one aspect of multi-sensory design application, the mental, physical, and behavioral effect on those in the space is crucial, especially when considering the health of employees and the sentiment your space evokes.
Sight is considered the primary architectural and spatial sensibility. It is undeniable that when you first enter a room, you are guided by your visual understanding of the layout and furniture, color, light, art, and so on. These different visual elements can play a vital role in an employees mental and physical health as well as creative ability. For example, influential or even branded art pieces can trigger creativity and inspiration in employees. Here are some other benefits to making sure you’ve got ‘SIGHT’ covered!
The second most important, and often times hazardous sense impacted in the workplace, is sound. Sound has become an even more overwhelming issue since companies have moved towards using harder surfaces for furniture and more open and collaborative layouts.
Touch can be described as everything from the stiffness or softness of your chair to looking at a chair from across the room and imagining what it would feel like to sit in it. This is the mental impact furniture can have on us on a day to day basis. Another aspect of a space which effects ‘Touch’ is the humidity or temperature of a room. The temperature of a room can easily decide the productivity and overall health of your employers. When focusing on ‘Touch’ in particular consider the following:
Smell is the sensibility most closely related to memory. For this reason, retail and commercial spaces often create a signature scent to be associated with their brand and contribute to this idea of a multi-sensory experience! Workspaces too, can depend on smell to help workers feel comfortable and correlate positivity with their work environment. Making a work environment more personal and less sterile through scented candles in the restroom for instance, is a low-cost but effective way to show your employees that you are designing for their comfort and taking their multi-sensory experience into account!
Last but not least, taste! Food and drink are important for representing a community, especially with the amount of time employees often spend in their workplace. Offering your community healthy food options shows that you value their health and ultimately their work and contributions to the company. Many shared workspaces or larger company’s often have food trucks in the parking lot on certain days. When people eat and drink together, they are more likely to bond. As social beings, we should support a healthy, multi-sensory experience.
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