Sensory Example 3

Bedroom for a workaholic in an apartment using touch and smell.

This example allows us to look at someone more eccentric than the previous two examples, and we must determine how we want to design for this person. As an architect using sensory design, we do not want to treat the space in a standard, basic way, instead we want to heighten either the experience in the room or accentuate the nature of the user. Really, it can be both, and we will determine this after we have gone through some possibilities.

First, let’s look at the context. As an apartment, we understand that there are other living spaces with unrelated users in proximity with this dwelling unit, and they are most likely adjacent with only walls and floors to separate them. In this way, there will always be some interaction among the tenants, and the spaces are likely to transmit noise across the spatial boundaries.

Next, we see that the user is a workaholic. As such, this person does not want to focus on downtime and relaxation, instead work and completion of goals are the main objectives. We do not need to work on making the space more stress-free, unless the user requests this. Instead, as a workaholic, the person wants to continue this path–it is how she or he meets the highest self. We will meet the user’s expectations.

The bedroom is a personal space, but it can also be a location for work and study. By definition, it is a space that has a bed, and the bed is for sleeping and relaxing, but in many buildings, especially apartments, the available space is limited, and the various rooms stretch their program. During the pandemic, living spaces became people’s entire worlds, and though we do not want to be shackled to our dwellings, it is clear that we can use these spaces beyond the traditional or typical ways. So, a bedroom can be a place to work, as well as sleep. Do we place a desk or table in the bedroom? Are we going to use the bed as the workspace? If so, how does this happen? We can make any of these choices, and each of them brings more options and opportunities. We will place a table and two chairs in the bedroom, and these can be used for other things, beyond work.

For the senses, first we will look at touch. The workaholic likely does not want any distractions, so we should try to use materials and textiles with regularity, meaning with consistent patterns and weaves, without great variation. This will provide controlled surfaces and a consistent space, but we may want to have a little subversion where the components of these patterns have differences and inconsistencies. This would more than likely require handmade and handworked materials, rather than the consistent, monotonous forms pumped out my the machine made.

Where will we use these? The linens, floor, wall surfaces, table, and chairs are all possibilities, and we can explore hard surfaces, such as flooring, stone, and the structural components for the furniture, but we can also use textiles, such as rugs and carpets, coverings for the furniture, and any accoutrements. Let’s have matching bed and table coverings, then choose a fabric for the chairs and a separate patterned area rug that are complementary. All of these textiles should not only be regularly patterned and handmade, but also have dimensionality, where the user can touch them and feel the variation. In this variation and the small inconsistencies, we will be able to provide enough difference to satisfy this busy person.

Next, with smell, we don’t want to overwhelm the user with experiential scents, but we would like to either have a consistency with a low, unobtrusive smell, or more likely, we would like to have small highlights throughout the day. These highlights can come through the user’s day to day activities, such as the soap at the sink and in the bath, foods for the various meals of the day, and any floral occasions. Beyond this, we have an opportunity to have caches of scents throughout the user’s space, perfumes that are inlaid with the closet, clothing, and linens. We can also choose the detergents for cleaning, and in addition, we might want to have moments of scent like potpourri and lotions. All of these scents should be subtle but should vary to create different experiences when sensed.

These two sensory inputs can be used alone, but it would be better to use both to create a more dynamic environment. Again, the experiences should be minimally invasive, but clearly extant.


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