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Sense and Sensibility - why is sensory design so important?

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Blog 2 - FRAME

Sensory design is the way that Designers are taking in to account every aspect and need of the consumer.

A head Europe judge Hans Meyer has recently said during an interview with Dezeen that “Hotels are becoming more sensory experiences” and following a visit to the Sleep & Eat event in November the Interior Design specialists here at FRAME would have to agree.

All over the world, different Interior Design practices and hotel brands are investing more time and money into not only what the guest sees but also into their other senses throughout the stay. This could be through not only the hotel rooms themselves, but also communal areas and restaurant spaces.

Ask yourself as a guest what do you notice first when entering a hotel?

Another prominent change within the Hospitality sector due to sensory awareness is the appreciation of not only the guestroom itself, but also all other areas. This poses many questions for both the guest and the Interior Designer… Which spaces are communal? Where are guests more likely to socialise? Who will be visiting? What activities/amenities are most important and for who? A struggle that Designers are facing is the sole purpose of each individual guests visit – this will then determine the reaction to a Designer’s styles, concepts and visions within this ever expanding area of design.

Although sensory design may not be a completely new concept within the industry, 2018 has certainly seen this trend boom within all sectors but most notably within Hotels, Bars and Restaurants. Referencing back to the Sleep and Eat Event once more, a talk held by three professionals covering light, sound and design clearly inferred that 2019 would see this boom continue with more hotels (both high-end and economy) will invest further in this area.

It has been clear through articles, design awards and events that the subject around sensory design is a complex one with different Designers holding different views around where guests should have their senses influenced and where they should be able to listen to their natural or subjective reactions. When visiting a hotel, it has been brought to both Designers and guests attention that they don’t actually realise how many sensory interactions a person can have when doing something simple such as checking in.

One key question asked by many is whether sensory design can go too far; What is the guest prioritising in their stay – comfort, functionality or style (and how are these impacted through the influence of sensory design)? 

In my opinion I find this a really interesting subject. I feel as though it will really vary depending on the individual and their individual needs. For example, for an individual who stays away from home and their home comforts, this may be the perfect thing to give them the ‘home away from home’ feel. However, for someone who is looking to get away from their home environment and potentially a step out of their comfort zone, this may not work.

I think this will be tough for designers to work on as it will be a case of constantly altering their design ideas to make this adaptable to all audiences rather than the consumer choosing from a variety of hotels/restaurant/bars for specific designs that really attract them. There seems to be a real buzz about this in the industry at the moment, it is being spoken about at events, on LinkedIn and on various articles. I feel as though this is going to be the next big thing, so watch this space.


Lucy Phillips - Recruitment Consultant 
FRAME Recruitment