A Five-Sensory Expedition

By Scott McManus | Senior Experiential Designer

Welcome to the immersive world of design, where the integration of sensory stimuli takes center stage in crafting experiences that inspire and engage. From a harmonious blend of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste we explore how these elements can create a refined experiential whole that not only delights but tells a meaningful story.

Visual Landscapes

The Power of Sight

Visual stimuli have a profound impact on how we perceive and navigate our surroundings. Whether we are moving through a new space using wayfinding and signage or immersed in a familiar color scheme, we rely on visual cues to facilitate navigation and establish mood. By incorporating lighting design, branding, color, finishes, and elements of biophilia, we can craft a visually enhanced space that promotes engagement, connection, and creativity.

Collage Food Hall incorporates a family of shapes derived from the logomark into a consistent vernacular of graphic patterns, lighting, and green walls.

The ceiling in Tricentis' Austin office not only focuses on streamlined sightlines but on a continuous rhythm of light and reflection.

Fine Tuned

Harmonizing with Sound

Workplace noise pollution caused by human chatter, keyboard clicks, HVAC, and footsteps on concrete can significantly impact our day. Understanding each user’s unique sound preferences and sensitivities allows us to create a harmonious soundscape. By incorporating purposeful noise, such as nature-inspired sounds or white noise, in public amenity spaces as well as sound-absorbing materials and wallcoverings that defuse noise in work zones, we can cultivate a serene and productive work environment that fosters focus, collaboration, and creativity.

LinkedIn’s Silent Disco features moments of choice related to sound, so one can seek out or tune out noise on their own terms. 

The terraces in InterContinental Rome Ambasciatori Palace face the streets of Via Veneto, creating a juxtaposition between the calm of a private space and the lively noise of city life. 

Tactile Connections

The Impact of Touch

The influence of touch stretches beyond mere perception—it impacts our connection and engagement within a space. Consider the contrast between sitting on a hard chair that firmly embraces the body and sinking into a soft chair that feels like a warm hug. Such tactile encounters have the power to evoke a sense of grounding and foster a deep connection with both the environment and the purpose of the space. By fully embracing the potential of touch, place comes alive with an array of tangible experiences.

In this technology client's New York workplace, three-dimensional graphics use organic materials to form intricate layers and textures. 

Q2's Austin office incorporates oversized stacked beads of different colors and shapes, which can be turned by hand.

Lingering Identity

Evoking Through Scent

Scent is often underestimated, yet it possesses the power to reinforce a sense of place. Integrating a signature scent helps create an immersive environment that fosters a strong emotional connection to a workplace, retail store, or restaurant. Just imagine the inviting aroma of freshly baked cookies, evoking feelings of warmth or nostalgia, or the subtle essence of lavender, known for its calming properties that instill a sense of tranquility.

Through the art of scent curation, the workplace transforms into a unique playground where every inhalation can inspire an engaging journey that transcends the ordinary and awakens the extraordinary. 

Clear your thoughts, skin, and lungs naturally in Woodhouse Spa's dry salt sanctuary.

Coffee engages all the senses, but the experience begins with smell. Blue Bottle's San Francisco space focuses on the senses to celebrate the hero of the experience, the coffee itself.

Palate Cleanser

Savor the Taste

Taste can become an essential ingredient in crafting immersive environments. Whether through culinary offerings in shared spaces or personalized food choices, the palate is awakened, becoming a catalyst for fostering connection and community. Providing a variety of flavors, promoting healthy choices, and curating dining experiences that reflect different cultures will nourish both body and soul, promoting well-being and a vibrant sense of togetherness.

Bacardi's global offices embrace their ‘Primos’ (Spanish for cousins) culture. Lively entertainment spaces bring to life the most important aspect of their products, the taste.  

At the Jamba Juice headquarters, focus groups sample new flavors under a red light that removes color to keep the focus on taste.

Jamba Juice Kitchen Area

Scott McManus

Senior Experiential Designer · Associate, New York Studio

In his role at IA, McManus works at the intersection of brand and experience, beginning with the logomark and addressing all aspects of a project from wayfinding to fixtures, furniture, sent, and biophilic plant curation to create a holistic environment that delights and tells a meaningful story.

Contact Scott: [email protected]