December 31, 2016

The Multisensory Workplace

As a human-centered workplace consultancy, PLASTARC has long recognized the connections between what can seem like contrasting entities: people and architecture, emotions and data, the natural and built environment.

We see these pieces as interconnected nodes in a vast, unified system. And happily, we’re beginning to see more and more companies and projects derive their missions and motivations from such an integrated perspective.

This wider interest in the workplace signals the embrace of an increasingly complex understanding of occupant experience. That’s exciting to us, because we’ve always approached design from a multisensory perspective. We see an accessible, simple, and effective way for designers and non-designers alike to make sense of our world: through the basic five senses we learn about in kindergarten: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Read more about what “multisensory” means and how we employ it in our work in this Q & A with Melissa Marsh following her presentation at GCUC in Los Angeles.

On our minds

Heeding multiple dimensions of sensory experience both complicates and enables the task of designing human-centric spaces; it opens exciting opportunities for leveraging workplace design strategies in increasingly nuanced ways. Depending on who you talk to—a kindergarten teacher, taste bud researcher, or psychic medium—we humans may be employing senses that go way beyond the basic five to feel our way through life. Designers can appeal to each of these sensory systems in virtually endless ways!

PLASTARC is dedicated to working for a world in which each of our five (or more) senses is engaged and appealed to at work, and where the smartest buildings are “dialed-in” to our sensations—reacting to make our workplaces more flexible, comfortable, and productive. We’ll keep tracking the successes and challenges of the multisensory workplace, so stay tuned.

From the archives

It’s hard to believe that, over two years ago, we attended the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) Conference for the first time! This year, we returned to present our own research "Trust and Transparency" on spatial transparency and social connection. You can catch our ANFA takeaways in Work Design Magazine.

At this time last year, we joined the Financial Times to discuss how workspace is a powerful tool for enabling organizational success and business acceleration with Andrew Rasiej of Civic Hall and Bernd Schmitt of Columbia Business School. Earlier in 2015, we were also featured in a Financial Times article about the use of wood and other natural materials in the workplace, including this multisensory direct hit: “Sounds, smells, colours and lighting... all make a huge impact on our experience; meanwhile, design typically focuses exclusively on look.”