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Sensory spaces : Centering interior design on the five senses

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(Photos: Unsplash)
When designing an interior space, homeowners tend to give the aesthetic aspect more consideration than the sensory one. However, to further engage your senses in the home, it may be interesting to move into the sensory realm.اضافة اعلان

Interior design is about creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing space within a building. To create a usable space, a number of considerations need to be accounted for, such as accessibility, safety, space, and budget. Alongside the more practical aspects of the design, aesthetics is a key pillar of interior planning, with many often prioritizing the look and ambiance of their space.

Sensory design takes into consideration all five senses in order to trigger specific feelings, be they coziness, comfort, calm, or engagement. By appealing to sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste, designers can create an all-immersive indoor experience.

The introduction to The Senses: Design beyond Vision exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum explains the notion of sensory spaces well. It states: “People perceive objects and spaces with sound and touch as well as with vision. People experience sound by feeling vibrations and seeing movements as well as hearing by ear.”

The combination of numerous points of stimulation creates a neural experience, engaging different areas of the brain and nervous system.

There are several ways in which designers can provoke a sensory reaction; textures and tactile elements can be used to soothe anxious thoughts and induce feelings of comfort. The incorporation of textured blankets, rugs, pillows, and wall coverings is a simple way to achieve this. We naturally know the difference; when walking on a pile carpet as opposed to a woven rug, we are able to feel the varying textures and draw comfort from their presence.

Similarly, light is an integral part of the human experience and one aspect that can easily be used to stimulate a sensory response. As we rely on the circadian rhythm to regulate our days, light is a hugely stimulatory factor in our lives. The incorporation of natural light can directly influence our mood and energy levels, providing a natural boost amidst the daily monotony.
The bustle of modern towns and cities, coupled with bright advertising and bold spaces has left us with sensory overload – something designers attempt to counteract in the space of the home.
It is also important to consider artificial lighting choices; fluorescent lighting is extremely harsh and cold, whereas LED or color-filtered lights can be much softer. The light selected to complement the space can have a strong impact on the inhabitant’s daily mood and wellbeing.

Natural features are another aspect of sensory design that can enhance a space and stimulate an emotional response. The use of tactile hessian or smooth stone elicits a natural reaction. As humans, we are often drawn to touch inviting surfaces, and natural surfaces instill a sense of mindfulness. Green walls are a novel example of a more extreme natural feature; once a solely commercial feature, they are now incorporated in domestic settings. Consisting of a wall of living plants, green walls purify the air, dampen noise and reduce the ambient temperature.

The combination of such sensory aspects is possible and can be done to achieve a minimalist or maximalist look, depending on the materials and colors used. Currently there is a strong preference for minimalism in both commercial and domestic settings; some take the view that this current aesthetic trend has developed in response to the overstimulation we experience while out in public. The bustle of modern towns and cities, coupled with bright advertising and bold spaces has left us with sensory overload — something designers attempt to counteract in the space of the home.

While sensory spaces can be bold or refined, the creation of a sensory space is a better method for curbing the overstimulation and mental exhaustion provoked by living a 21st century life. A space that allows us to connect with natural elements or has curated acoustics is one that provides a greater sense of power and autonomy, giving us control over the environment we experience whilst at home.

Sensory spaces can also have significant benefits for neurodivergent children and adults; environments with a focus on acoustic design, the softening of light, and specific areas of stimulation have been proven to benefit neurodivergent children with autism.

Careful consideration of the sensory experience is essential in benefitting all those who enter and experience a space — and can be tailored toward specific needs. Regardless of a person’s sensory abilities, an interior that has a multisensory design enables everyone to explore and experience joy.

We can see the importance of multisensory design in an often-overstimulating world; spaces tailored to the individual’s sensory experience can push boundaries and expand accessibility. Through the simple introduction of natural materials or tactile textiles, we can begin to engage the five senses, elicit new reactions and stimulate new feelings within the home.

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