Many designers focus on creating a beautiful workplace that both employees and visitors can admire. While a distinct style is important to displaying a company’s culture, it’s also vital to appeal to all the senses so the design provides an all-encompassing workplace.

Multisensory design recognizes that people work and interact in different ways. Some people react better to vibrant hues while others don’t particularly care about colors, but need a collaborative environment to be successful. From sound to shape to texture, the human body is constantly aware of its surroundings and the work environment plays a significant role in the happiness and productivity of employees. Fast Co. Design stresses that no matter what sense a space is trying to appeal to, quality sensory design is all about communicating one consistent message.


(Photo Credit: DIRTT)

Now, according to Work Design Magazine, there are various ways that designers can appeal to all five senses and still provide a cohesive feel to the office.

When creating a workplace, many designers mainly try to appeal to the sense of sight, but neglect to learn all of the factors that contribute to a true aesthetic appearance. Things like natural light directly affect the body’s circadian rhythm which can either inhibit or support employee productivity.

Smell is important because it’s most strongly paired with memory and the aroma of a space can be the difference between a positive and negative memory of the office. An often overlooked aspect of design, though one of the most critical, is the scent associated with the bathroom. If employees and customers are exposed to a fresh, clean restroom, they’re much more likely to associate the office with a positive memory.

Now, if a workplace isn’t a restaurant or other dining establishment, how is it supposed to appeal to the sense of taste? Simple additions like fresh coffee help employees to feel welcome and energized in the morning. As well, the wafting aroma of warm brew allows coffee to adhere to both the senses of smell and taste.

While sight is the most commonly targeted sense, so too is sound. With the current open-office trend, socialization and collaboration are increasing, but so are the levels of volume. New sound masking technologies and private spaces are crucial to successful sensory design.


(Photo Credit: Knoll)

Lastly, the sense of touch applies directly to the surfaces with which employees come into contact. From furniture choices to the types of desk and floor textures, employees are constantly touching some part of the office. Ergonomic designs and natural materials make for a much more calming space, rather than composite materials, like plastics, that feel cheaper and are generally more uncomfortable.

When creating an office, the ability to appeal to multiple senses will greatly enhance the success of both the business and its employees. Good design may look aesthetically pleasing but great design incorporates the needs of all five senses.