Can you Design an Office for all Five Senses?

By David Keane | on January 4th, 2018

Guess what? We can! Here’s a handy guide from one of London’s top office fit out companies (if we do say so ourselves) to making your office look, smell, sound, feel and even taste good, too!

Good design looks great, yes – but why shouldn’t it also feel great, smell great and sound great?

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After all, supermarkets lure you in with the smell of fresh-baked bread. Pot Noodles are devoid of all nutritional content but people love them because they smell, taste and sound so darn good. Slurp!

Up ‘til now, we office fit out companies have focused on making things look pretty, with just a bit of texture thrown in to tickle the sense of touch. We’ve ignored the other three senses. And that means you’re getting only a fraction of the experience that you could be getting from your interior fit out.

Well, hold on to your ears/noses/tongues people, because that’s all about to change. Here’s how to involve all five senses and create real impact in your office design.

The Sense of Sight

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Every single part of design deals with your sense of sight. Colour, balance, contrast, space, proportion, rhythm, repetition – everything matters. That’s why it’s important to examine all the details when revamping a space.

Take the above reception area, for example. Its ceilings are gigantic and scale is mega-important when making design selections. You need oversized, dramatic lighting to feel proportionate to the ultra-high ceilings. We also had to think about breakups. We don’t mean cry-your-heart-out romantic breakups – we’re talking about breaking up that enormous floor space with some stunning geometric lighting strips. It’s the shape and symmetry that gives this office its mood of sophistication. Hell to the yes!

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Here’s another office that juxtaposes different shapes – sinuous and geometric – to create “visual tension.” This is a fancy way of saying that it stops your interior fit out from looking samey and boring. We freaking love the bold orange wall and turquoise area rug (subtlety has never really been our thing). Tip from the pros: beige is boring and makes your office look like it’s a celeb in rehab.

The Sense of Touch

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Texture has a huge role to play in office design because it’s so closely associated with comfort and warmth… or the opposite. We’re seeing a huge trend for urban-cool metal and glass features at the moment. These materials give your office a visual wow, but they can be cold and sterile. It’s not until you add some beautiful mohairs, wools, rough-hewn wood or squishy bean bags that your interior fit out becomes really inviting. If you’re gonna go for texture kid, go big.

Other elements that can add texture to an office space include:

● Rugs, carpets and room dividers in kickass fabrics.

● Walls and furniture with complementary surfaces. Be it smooth, rough and glossy (oh my!), the texture of surfaces we touch greatly affects our enjoyment of the workspace.

● Sculptures, wallpaper and linger-on-the-fingers artwork like the smooth ‘n’ scratchy scribble boards in the above design.

●Flowers and plants. Aside from providing texture, nature also provides colour and a gorgeous scent for the ultimate multi-sensory experience. The beauty of nature is very powerful to people.

Which leads us to…

The Sense of Smell

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Ever wondered why a spa smells of lavender or green tea when you walk through the door? Or why a DIY store smells of fresh-cut grass? It’s because smell is quickly associated with memories and emotions. Shops that get scent marketing right can make customers happier, more loyal, and more willing to buy.

The same rules apply in the workplace and really, office fit out companies should be applying them more. Psychologists have discovered that certain scents can make us feel fresh and perky and ready to work harder. The scents that get neurons revved up and ready to fire include cinnamon, mint, lemon, orange and rosemary. It’s easy to activate these scents with candles, diffusers or a display of fresh-cut flowers. Be sure to keep your florals fresh, though, because what’s with dead flowers? We want your smells to be nice not crazy-making.

The Sense of Taste

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We don’t usually go round licking furniture, which means that taste is an elusive element for office fit out companies to incorporate into your design. Luckily, you don’t have to be too literal to achieve taste in your interior fit out. Simply having a kitchen area, or fresh fruit on display, is an indication that something good is coming to tempt the palate. Food can motivate your people to gather together, take a break, and get a bit more intimate with each other.

If you haven’t got the space for a kitchen, how about this shelf display? Those little pots of beans and mustard transform a boring white shelf into a kickass colourful display with an offbeat edge that’s tasty, delightful … and a little unexpected. Totally our jam. (Groan).

The Sense of Hearing

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Hands up who has suffered from noise pollution in the workplace? While sound is incredible for creating a mood, sometimes, it’s the absence of sound that makes the difference. A noisy workplace can make us feel overwhelmed and confused while a place enveloped with silence can make us feel relaxed and focused on the task at hand. If your office feels like a coughing, munching, clacky-heeled echo chamber, no worries. We can organise an acoustic survey to make sure you get exactly the right noise level.

Rocking out more your bag? These shelf speakers are design objects that happen to put out high-quality sound. So really, when it comes to the sense of hearing, the only limit is your imagination.

It’s time to awaken the senses!

Your new office is a blank slate to be filled with mind-blowing results. So don’t just design for the eyes! When you create experiences that touch on every emotion, one sense at a time, you can create a space that doesn’t just look good, but functions well and feels amazing. Makes sense to us ….

Feeling inspired? Check out our Instagram for examples of multi-sensory offices, and watch us in action, too!

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pick up the phone

020 7971 1132

want us to call you back?