Sensory Design

During our lecture on sensory design, a lot of attention was paid to how elitist architects incorporate sensuous phenomena, this got me thinking about the spaces we are constantly interacting with, the branded spaces amongst the city and how they incorporate Pallasmaas (2012) ideas of sensory design. Retail Branded spaces through means of spatial configuration, sensuous stimulators and branding identity influence the way people respond to the brand and the process of which you move through the space. Unconsciously we are all encompassed with various methods of sensory design, whether they control the way we consume the products or the way we indulge in their specificity.

“Architecture reflects, materialises and eternalises ideas and images of ideal life” Pallasmaa (2012, p. 76). Borges (2013) book on branded spaces explains how consumers become enticed through advanced expectations of brand associations. Elite brands create a realm that becomes irresistible to consumers. Apple stores, pay careful attention to their branding elements to ensure a coherent feel amongst the store and upon the products. Through strategically composing unique experiences for their customers’ apple keep its retail process in alliance with its marketing intentions. Apples branded strategy focuses on the creation of systematic emotions, these selected branded emotions are lifestyle, imagination and aspirations. All of these link with the factors of brand identification, how we as consumers idealise the brand amongst ourselves and within our lives. The idea of simplicity amongst all products, and branded environments refers to the removal of complexity from consumers’; ‘The annotation that using an apple product will create an easier life for the consumer’.

Apple stores have a design pattern that occurs throughout the stores. The element of organisation is strong throughout. There is a clear open plan layout situated within the store, creating open visibility and clear accessibility. An emphasis is created among apple products through a minimalistic approach. Consumers are inspired to interact with all elements of the products, tables are featured at a suitable height to ensure pro-active interaction and reveal the full beauty. The idea of an in-store relationship creates the aspiration to become amongst the brand identity. From metal to wood and glass they use the materials in a sophisticated manner, materials appeal to the visual and touch sensory stimuli, Apple create obligations to to feel the the finish amongst the tables or the great satisfaction that is gathered when looking at the complete beauty of aesthetic finish, ‘The idealised apple finish’. Similar to Peter Zumthor they acknowledge the importance of an aesthetic finish and material influence “Atmosphere is an aesthetic category” Zumthor (2006 p. 7) Each individual store is contained amongst its own architectural perfection. A personal favourite of mine is The Covent Garden apple store which is among a grade 2 listed building, the revealed raw brickwork among structural arches inspires touch through the contrast against the rest of the store, the English oak tables and the 2 storey glass spiralled staircase. The clean minimal interior creates an imagination amongst the consumer of an ideal work space. A heightened experience is created through exaggerated ceilings of which create a bodily identification that wishes for exploration. The desiring products around are made to create an imaginative experience that can adapt the consumers’ identification with themselves and lifestyle. It is questionable whether the subconscious sensory experience that we are exhibited too within the store is a good implication or a manipulative one? By creating this phenomenon throughout we are being manipulated to represent ourselves with the brand. (reference) consumerism, we no longer by stuff for the need we consume for the want and association with said brand. Although I think sensory design application is great for creating an incorporative experience it will remain in question whether this should be applied to our own retail branded spaces where consumption can greater or if it is better among those schools and hospitals to provide better learning and healing environments.


Borges, S. (2013) Branded Spaces, Branded Architecture and the Furture of Retail Design. Berlin: Gestalten

Pallasmaa, J. (2009) The thinking hand: Existential and embodied wisdom in architecture. United Kingdom: Wiley, John & Sons.

Pallasmaa, J. (2012) The Eyes Of The Skin, Architecture and the senses. United Kingdom: Wiley, John & Sons.

Zumthor, P. (2006) Peter Zumthor Atmospheres. Switzerland: Birkhauser

Zumthor, P. (2006) Peter Zumthor Thinking Architecture. expanded edition. Switzerland: Birkhauser


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