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How Experience Design Can Transform Modern Living

How Experience Design Can Transform Modern LivingOn a recent flight, the person next to me started a conversation with the typical questions, including, “So, what do you do?” This woman was highly educated and had a fascinating job. I wanted to hear more. But when she heard what I did, a two-hour grand inquisition began! 

“Oh, I bet your home is amazing!” Followed by, “So tell me, what are the latest trends in interior design?”  

It was a perfect punch of an awkward assumption and a cringy question.  We’ll save the assumption for another time but the question about trends is a tough one for me.  Mostly, as anyone who knows me can verify, it’s because I don’t know.

Of course, my team and I know the latest materials, finishes, techniques, and more. But as far as what is “on trend,” I couldn’t really tell you, and honestly, I don’t care.

Sure, there is some degree of safety and validation knowing what you’re designing is liked by the masses, but trends are fickle at best.  In short, trends are not enduring, and certainly not personal.

So, how do we create human-centric, personalized spaces that are functional, enduring, and elicit an emotional response?

Imagine stepping into a home that responds to your needs and emotions, where every element is crafted to enhance your day-to-day life.

This is the power of Experience Design (XD).

What Is Experience Design?

Experience Design focuses on creating spaces that deeply resonate with individuals on functional and emotional levels. That’s a heady definition, but it has a lot of merit. The concept was originally developed for commercial spaces and has begun influencing how we think about our personal spaces.

In commercial settings, Experience Design shapes experience through physical layouts, digital interactions, sensory inputs like sound and smell, and the emotional connections they forge. This approach creates memorable experiences that encourage customer or employee loyalty and engagement.

Retailers might use dynamic lighting and curated playlists to draw customers deeper into the store. In contrast, hotels use personalized digital check-ins and ambient room fragrances to make guests feel at home.

Translating Commercial XD to Homes

Applying what has been learned from Experience Design in commercial spaces to homes brings new opportunities for deeply personalized environments.

Home is no longer just a place to rest your head but a dynamic environment that adapts to and enhances your lifestyle. Again, it’s a lot of rhetoric, but what could that look like?

Dynamic and Adaptable Spaces

Think about a home where physical and digital interactions merge seamlessly with smart home technology. Imagine a house that wakes up with you, raising blinds to soft morning light and queuing your favorite playlist to start your day. Or consider motion sensors that adjust lighting and temperature as you move through your home, ensuring comfort while optimizing energy use.

Homes designed with Experience Design principles can foster better social interactions. Space plans are refined to create fluid, multipurpose spaces that accommodate lively gatherings with extended family and quiet personal moments. Customizable lighting and modular furniture easily transition space from a family movie night to an elegant dinner party with friends.

Sensory Experiences

Experience Design also uses sensory inputs to create a mood or atmosphere. Adjustable lighting can influence energy levels and mood, with cooler, brighter tones for morning activities and warmer, dimmer lights for evening relaxation. Visual art becomes not just décor, but conversation starters and sources of inspiration. Acoustic design minimizes external noise while enhancing the sounds you want, from the clarity of your home theater to the gentle ambiance of background music that seems to emanate from the walls.

Obviously, the choice of materials and textures still plays a crucial role. Natural wood, stones, and fibers can bring an organic, grounding presence into the home, connecting indoor spaces with the natural world outside. Smell, often underestimated, can be subtly manipulated through integrated diffusers that can evoke seasons or memories, making a house truly feel like home. (smell-o-vision, anyone?)

Creating an Experience Design Environment

In short, it’s about creating environments to evoke a particular emotional response.

What excites me is that these technologies, materials, and techniques are available now. Looking forward, consider the possibilities as the lines between the physical and digital worlds are poised to blur even further.

OK, but what does this have to do with trends?

Instead of trend-driven interior design, human-centric interior design involves understanding our environments’ role in our lives. It’s not just about how a home looks or functions but how it makes you feel; it’s not just about the objects within a space but about the space between those objects and what we can do within them. It’s a shift from creating spaces that are “on trend” to creating environments that prioritize our human needs and experiences in a deeply personal way.

So it’s true, I’m not preoccupied with staying up with the latest trends. That is just mimicking what has already been done. By creating environments where every element is considered for its contribution to the quality of life of our clients, we can create spaces that aren’t just lived in, but live with them.

These are exciting days in the design world, and integrating Experience Design into our homes can change the fabric of our homes.

author avatar
Jeff Owner/Principal
Jeff Kaper is the owner/principal of Spectrum Design Group LLC. For over 30 years, he has helped his clients navigate the tension of form, function, budget, and disruption to create uniquely personal, enduring spaces to do life. He is a raving fan of the intrinsic joy good design brings to our daily lives. He also finds joy leading the SDG family and its story still being written.

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