The designer can use the sense of thirst to convey a design intent through the use of beverages and liquids. First, we must understand what the design intent is. Next, we must determine what the use of drink is meant to convey. Is there some chemoreceptive feature of the drink, such as using alcohol? Is the drink meant to compliment the other aspects of the design, or is it meant to contrast with the project? Is there some taste or feature, such as color or viscosity, that is meant to augment the design? Next, we must determine how the beverage is presented. Will the design be improved by presenting the drink in a paper cup? Is fine stemware a better solution? Would it be better to place the liquid in a bowl to be ingested either with a spoon or by lifting the bowl to the mouth? Finally, we must define where the drink is located. Is the beverage in clear view, in the center of the space? Is it hidden within a detail of the design installation, and we are pushed to drink either out of curiosity or direction? The designer must be careful answering each of these questions to ensure the use of the sense of thirst is aligned with the intent of the project.
To provide a beverage to quench thirst, the designer should think about how the user takes the drink. Likely, the drink will be presented somewhere between the waistline and eye level. However, what if it is not? What does it mean for the visitor to need to bend over to take the drink or reach high overhead to acquire it? Next, how is the beverage imbibed? Is it taken through a straw? Do we use a cup, a glass, a mug, or another form of container? What if we use a bowl as mentioned above? What does it mean for each of these cases? Of course, drinking through a straw is informal, but what does the container mean?
Not only does the drink need to be presented in a defined container and conveyance, but how that container is presented is also important. Is it sitting on a tray to be ingested? Would it be better to have each drink specially made for the guest? Is the drink sitting in a strange position or location that makes the visitor wonder what the intention and purpose are? Perhaps, the drink containers are presented in their own holders. Would these containers be able to go home with the guests and why? Are they souvenirs or can the holder or container be used for some other purpose, such as a musical instrument. Again, the designer must determine these things and ensure they match the intent of the design.
Thirst can be classified in a few types and each is useful for the designer in different ways. First, there is the sense of thirst to meet the need for hydration. This first type is important because it ensures the visitor is comfortable, without physical needs to be focused upon and instead, the wants can be addressed to attempt to achieve design success. Second, there is the sense of thirst to meet the desire for enjoyment. This second type uses the sense of taste to provide experience for the visitor which can lighten the mood and provide enjoyment. Third, there is the sense of thirst to meet the desire for influenced perspective, such as with alcohol. This third option is to allow the sense of chemoreception to alter the visitor’s state and provide a new experience internally, and externally through the actions of the guest. Finally, there is the sense of thirst to meet the desire for affecting the design. Arguably, each of the other types are leading toward this option in a design installation, however the designer must ensure this purpose is met to convey the design intent.
Engaging the sense of thirst is a strong design solution because it provides a personal experience that can be interpreted by the visitor, but it may also be able to be brought or translated home to provide a memory or echo of the experience at the design installation. Furthermore, the act of drinking makes the visitor the actor in the project, giving tasks to provide experiential variation. Finally, the use of the sense of thirst allows yet another way the designer can push the meaning of the design project. The use of thirst can also be paired with the senses of hunger, smell, and taste to create a gastronomic design experience.