contact maria lorena lehman

send your message

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

spECIAL MASTERCLASS: Design concept formulation


Join Now to learn my HPA Design Formula to improve your architectural design concept formulations. This formula will help bring your mindset, skillset, and project design results to new heights. Plus, get the Design Insight Digest, FREE.


Sensory Design: Lessons from a Tea Cup

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © patrick george | Flickr
“Architecture is basically a container of something. I hope they will enjoy not so much the teacup, but the tea.”
— Yoshio Taniguchi

This quote highlights why sensory design is indispensable. The act of enjoying the tea is fostered by the teacup just as sensory architecture enhances occupant experience. Both the teacup and sensory design must be sensitive to human needs.

With interactive design, a sensory teacup could integrate user sensory system factors like temperature and flavor. The same sensory teacup could also adapt itself to the particular tastes of each individual drinker. The sensory teacup could even adapt itself in real-time as its tea level decreases. And yes, the tea cup could even use technology to make the tea more physiologically healthy. In the end, this tea cup still exists to enhance the experience of drinking that tea.

As architects that design for the senses, it helps to understand latest findings in other fields such as the field of neuroscience — where much is being uncovered about how the human brain and central nervous system work. As we tap into the inner workings behind the senses, emotion and physiology, we will be better able to create spaces that comfort, motivate, teach, remind and enhance experience. (This becomes evermore important as new technologies and materials surface.)

The question then becomes — Can we, as architects, enhance experience without losing sight of what makes that experience so special in the first place?





what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
read more testimonials
journal article collectionsresearch designs

Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

maria lorena lehman, as seen in...
featured posts
From The Studio

How to Enhance Your Design with a Creative Spark

How often do you capture a "creative spark"? The key when modeling a creative spark is to create an MVM, a Minimum Viable Model, that quickly tests your creative spark. This initial physical model is a quick handmade prototype to help yield proof of concept: built to see if this creative spark has depth for further development.

From The Studio

Structure of Gravity: The Rise of Architecture

The above close-up section of a recent environmental drawing I created explores what I call the structure of gravity. This paradoxical term speaks to the bridging of architecture between the earth and sky – as built form rises upward as if to collaborate with the science of gravity through the structure of design expression.

Design Creativity

Do You Design Architecture "Beyond the Box"?

Developing the ability to evolve your design process is critical not only to your architectural brand, but also to the clients and building occupants your design projects serve. By formulating design concepts that push boundaries, you eliminate getting stuck or plateauing as you improve your design thinking and design doing from project to project.