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spECIAL MASTERCLASS: Design concept formulation


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Unlock the Creativity within Your Multi-Sensory Design

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

‍Image Credit: © Cacaroot | Fotolia

Importance of Multi-Sensory Design

Architectural design that pulls its inspiration and concept formulation from the desire to innovate occupant experience has great potential to uplift quality of life. And the key principle for this is to "innovate occupant experience", so improvements can be made for the way people live, work, heal, and play. When you design with an eye toward innovation, it becomes possible to create architectural narratives that help building occupants in entirely new ways.

Multi-sensory design is a critical method by which to compose architecture that goes beyond comfort to not only allow for certain functions to take place within a space, but to actually foster and nurture beneficial occupant functions with a place. Multi-sensory design can really help an architecture to bring positive benefit for people by tapping into greater perceived beauty, function, and meaning. 

But how does such multi-sensory architectural design get formulated? And how can one innovate place, in order to design for the senses in this way?

Creativity at the Core

Once a multi-sensory design approach is underway for a given architecture project, it becomes important to uncover how innovation of occupant experience will occur. You see, every building (and every space within that building) is unique, in that there are one-of-a-kind requirements, constraints, and needs for which the design must solve. And once analysis is being carried out by architects to better understand the root design problems, challenges, and needs --- an important core design skill becomes crucial.

This core design skill is... CREATIVITY.

You see, one can pull from their creative strengths to innovate for occupant experience using multi-sensory design. It is as if creativity is at the foundation, and multi-sensory design pulls from this foundation to create the environments that get perceived.

Thus, as an architectural designer, you will benefit greatly from sharpening your creative thinking mindset and skillset, particularly when striving to create a multi-sensory designed environment. In other words, the more ways you can "see" how to orchestrate materiality, nature, and other environmental stimuli ...the better. You will have a greater architectural design "vocabulary" from which to pull, as you creatively strive to design the building.

The Creativity Behind Multi-Sensory Design

When creating an architecture that speaks to its occupants through their senses (in beneficial ways), there is a creativity in designing that can help you to expand the way you make design decisions about how to coordinate environmental features to reach multi-sensory design specifications. As such, with any overarching principles or building codes, there is a creativity that you must tap into so you can design beautifully, functionally, and meaningfully for new and beneficial experiences that also meet those requirements.

Creativity +  Multi-Sensory Design = Innovation of Occupant Experience

One of your most important assets as a designer is your creativity --- your ability to design solutions for challenges in innovative ways. By developing and strengthening your creativity muscles, you will be able to see unique and breakthrough design approaches and configurations that create new types of multi-sensory environments that can meet new kinds of needs and uplift life in new ways. With creativity, you will be able to see solutions that others may not see, and this will give you an extraordinary competitive advantage.


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
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Maria Lorena Lehman is an award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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