People use all their senses when they interact with objects: They see the product’s appearance, they feel its weight and the texture of its surface. When they interact with the product during usage, they feel the different parts, hear the sounds that it makes, feel its temperature, and perceive the smells it produces. All these sensory impressions together contribute to how the product is experienced. Hence, designers should take all these sensory channels into account when they create new products. No matter how important people say they find certain product aspects, as soon as one aspect is undesirable or does not fit with the rest, it tends to attract the majority of attention and will become the focus point for improvement. The Multisensory design approach explicitly considers all types of sensory inputs during the design process and strives to create a coherent, holistic user experience that people can engage with.
Until recently, the development of food products has remained primarily in the hands of breeders and farmers (agriculture), food technologists and marketers (food industry), and chefs and hospitality experts (restaurants). However, most of these professionals have not been explicitly trained to conceive and create new products for consumers. Fortunately, designers are now discovering food and eating as an interesting area, involving the design of (new kinds of) food and food packaging, the development of new restaurant services, food production systems, strategies to improve consumers’ health, and so on. More information on the food design research can be found in the Food & Eating Design Lab page.
In industrialized societies, many daily human experiences are evoked by products: People love the smell when their espresso machine is brewing a fresh cup of coffee, they are engaged by the latest computer games, they get annoyed when they cannot open blister package, they get excited by the possibilities of their new computer tablet, and so on. Especially in the saturated markets, consumers do no longer select products for their functional roles, but they look for superior usability characteristics or engaging experiences. Hence, product usage and purchase are more and more dependent on whether the product or service is able to elicit a distinctive, appropriate experience and company profitability may depend on the experiential qualities of the company image and its brand(s).
Because the experiential qualities of the company image, brands, and individual product and service offerings become more and more important for market success, companies become more interested in creating specific experiences. Companies may innovate their business by aiming to deliver specific consumer experiences, and they may hire designers to create these experiences for their customers. But in what way does the company need to adapt their innovation process in order to enable experience-driven design? This is the topic that I would like to investigate by:
- Understanding subjective experiences: How do sensory perception, product meaning and emotional responses contribute to experiences?
- How can we design products and services that elicit specific target experiences?
- How should companies organize their innovation processes in order to benefit optimally from experience-driven design?
My list of publications is on the publications page.