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Will data from visceral, neurological feedback change how we design?

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

I've always been a geek. More accurately, I am a strategic tech geek, which means I love thinking about "What if...?".

Donna and her husband geeking out at the WonderWoman 3D premiere.

If you look closely, you can uncover many of 'my kind' in the interior design field. We love technical detail and precision and, at the same time, we adore breaking the rules. We balance raw, gut reactions with insightful data and intelligence. We love learning the fundamentals and finding insights within them. We revel in applying these insights to our designs in order to help our clients and their families live a little better.

Our industry has already been capturing wonderfully deep insights on what interests our Customers via the plethora of digital media sources being accessed by them, including company websites, Instagram, and Facebook.

I spent many years in the high tech industry specifically around how we better utilize sensing technology specifically for insights into health and wellness. Google has been running a long-term health and wellness research study on the quantified self using various sensing technologies including heart rate, blood pressure, and blood testing.

It makes complete sense that they would look to expand that study into sensing a human being's emotional reactions to their surroundings and their experiences.

The 'Essential' Room evokes a primal look by using raw natural materials and fibers. Photo credit: Maremosso

Metropolis Magazine's April 18th article by Adrian Madlener revealed that Google Design Studio, Johns Hopkins University Art + Mind Lab, ReddyMade Designs and Muuto Design collaborated on "A Space for Being". This very cool installation at 2019 Milan Design week focused on examining visitors' reactions to the design of three (3) different rooms using sensing technology that tracked various biometric parameters.

The 'Essential' room was designed to focus on a primal look with natural materials and fibers. The 'Vital' room was designed to evoke more energy with bright colors and angular lighting. The third room took on a more graceful and classical aesthetic and still included tactile surfaces.

It will be very interesting to see what the data tells us or if the collaborators will publish the full set of data.

What are your thoughts on this type of data?

What if we could more easily quantify and monitor the feelings that arise when experiencing bliss, aversion or even the 'ho-hum' status quo response to an environment?

What if we know how many people experienced agitation when looking at an art piece in a waiting room?

Is the color chosen for the wall at your office bringing a deep sense of wellbeing to your employees?

Will the insights gleaned from these simple and ubiquitous technologies allow designers to continue to uber-personalize spaces and items to evoke a specific response?

Can these new insights help designers to further quantify new cutting edge ideas and see how far they are pushing boundaries?

Can we expand the use of other senses in addition to our visual sense in planning for and gauging initial reactions to our designs so we can gain earlier insights on whether we are hitting the right balance for our clients?

Will we find out that what our customers say to us and what they actually feel are vastly different?

Some might argue that artists and creatives should not care about any of this data...that it is meaningless in creating art and design...and that we should continue to create by what moves us, regardless of the feedback of others.

I, for one, am looking forward to learning how to use the knowledge from the quantification of this visceral data from both neurological and biometric sensing to impact how I design for my clients.

It is a juicy topic that I'd love your feedback on.

What are your thoughts?

Link to Metropolis Magazine article:

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