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19 February 2016

Good design should be an experience


The devil’s in the detail – or so they say.

This certainly holds true for design.

Something may look amazing, but if one small element is out of step with the overall mission, it will fail from a design point of view.

No matter how well designed an environment may appear – a living space, office, meeting room, exhibition environment – if your chair, for example, is uncomfortable, it will leave you with a negative feeling, undermining everything else.

Designing or choosing the right chair that fits not just visually, but also functionally is the essence of good design. With 140 sales staff holding hundreds of meetings over three days at global entertainment market MIPCOM in October, a key part of designing the BBC’s live experience at the event was testing furniture with the team on the ground for the comfort factor.

BBC MIPCOM_resized

Equally, Pixar Studios’ beautifully crafted long, thin boardroom table was a stunning piece of furniture, but it failed spectacularly as a key part of an environment designed to foster the spirit of collaboration and inclusion. Why? Because, as Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull pointed out in his book Creativity Inc, the act of sitting around it immediately created a hierarchical structure that would see junior team members relegated to the ends. Changing to a square table – which also looked great – gave everyone a voice and removed barriers to enable meaningful engagement.

Recognising how design can influence behaviour, even subliminally, is key to creating a better experience.

When design is discussed, we often talk and think of the obvious – the size, colour or form something takes; what it visually looks like. Although design should always be aesthetically pleasing, much of what makes design good people rarely notice; it just feels right or, even better, excites the senses.

Good design is about solving problems, creating experiences better and stirring emotions. It should change how people interact and feel.

Achieving visual stand out to make the best possible impact is important, but not if you’re standing out for all the wrong reasons.

A sumptuous, dramatic, oversized staircase leading to the mock up of one of Bombardier’s luxury jets may seem excessive at first glance. But the feeling of grandeur it delivered to visitors who walked up it, elevating them to a higher ‘plane’, built a wonderful feeling of anticipation that perfectly reflected the premium nature of aircraft.

Bombardier staircase_resized

But Bombardier’s experience at EBACE 2015 wasn’t just about making bold statements. The aircraft manufacturer’s core environment incorporated invisible barriers built into the design to control the flow of visitors and cater for different types, from the general public to VIP and VVIPs, while making everyone feel equally welcome.

You could say good design acts as a silent ambassador for your business, creating engaging experiences for the people who matter most – your customers.

By Lisa Hill, Head of 3D at brand experience agency 2Heads


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