Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Inc.
 
 
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Ex·pe·ri·ence De·sign:
/ˌikˈspirēəns dəˈzīn/

Choreographs a user’s journey through an immersive story that sparks curiosity, fuels desire, and inspires ideas.

 
 
 
 

The Process

In the 6th year of the summer research fellowship we were tasked with defining Experience Design or Experimental Design.  It soon became clear that this iteration of the research fellowship would be more directly focused on exploration and development.

Using research as our foundation, we spent the summer developing and testing a framework for The Future of Experience Design.  Experience design, or experiential design, is a new field of design thinking that hasn’t been as well documented as some of the research topics of past years (see The Future of Urban Living, The Future of the Work Place).  After we developed a working definition, we began to suss out what the key attributes were for an experiential design. Based on those two components, we created a tool that we could take into the field and catalog our experiences at a variety of spatial typologies and at varying scales.  We looked at retail experiences, learning institutions, art installations, and landscapes as case studies.

Our interests were in the case studies, learning through our own experiences, as well as learning from the others.  We devoted our time to academic research, interviewing experts and novices, and experiencing spaces. Most of our time was spent developing and utilizing the tool we developed.  We catalogued our experiences with it, refining it as the summer progressed. We wanted to be sure that we included all the important components of experiential design.

Learn more about the process here

 
 
 
 
 

Four Attributes

Narrative, Social Dynamic, Sensory Engagement, and Spatial.

Definition of Experience Design: 

Choreographs a user’s journey through an immersive story that sparks curiosity, fuels desire, and inspires ideas.  

Subtext: 

How physical space guides the user through an experience.  How it can play with form, openness, enclosure, tactile, and acoustic experiences to reinforce the narrative of the journey.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Social Dynamic

generates momentary microcultures that promote engagement.

Sensory Engagement

engages with your senses and emotions to create an immersive environment.

 
 

Narrative

utilizes a narrative to make memorable spaces that engage and inspire through storytelling.

Spatial

creates a spatial condition for cognitive mapping.

 
 
 

Memory

develops lasting and evolving memories that influence the world around us.

 
 
 
 
 

Expert Interviews

These experts from The Salk Institute of Biological Studies discuss the science behind experiences, and how we can start evaluating experimental design by neuroscience. The conversations ranged from fields of the Psychophysical and Phenomenology to discussing that there is no secret sauce to creating an experience.

 
 
 

“People sometimes ask me … you’re interested in this relationship between neuroscience and architecture.  Can you give me a prescription for how to build - based on what you know about the frame - for how to build a better building?  And we can’t do that.  At least not now.”  - Tom Albright

 

“How does an architect create a space that elicits a certain emotional response and … how can neuroscience inform that?  I don’t have an answer.” - Tom Albright
 

One that I think has been neglected is the social component. Buildings are normally occupied by people and we do things together collaboratively in buildings.  And I think this is increasingly the way our world will operate .” - Tom Albright

 

This is a really hot topic in neuroscience now, the neurobiology of social interactions.” - Tom Albright

 

“I’m a sensory biologist so a lot of things I can try to understand about the sensory experience, but the emotional component to it, this spirit of place element, is a much harder problem.” - Tom Albright

 

Much of your experience, most of the time, is driven by memory.  Or, my sensory experiences are noisy, they’re incomplete, they’re ambiguous, and I fill in the blanks based on what I know to be true about the world.” - Tom Albright

 

 

“I just launched The Center at the University of Southern California in the school of cinematic arts, where we will be asking the same questions.  How to measure it. What has to be measured. What is experience. - Sergei Gepshtein

 

There are two disciplines concerned with connections between the physical world and the role of experience and they are called psychophysics and experimental phenomenology. Psychophysics comes from the physical end, phenomenology comes from the mental side the experimental side and they’re both very important. - Sergei Gepshtein

 

Descartes as one of the founding fathers of western science, in his hands, space would have no parts. It’s like a boundless container. Space of experience, on the other hand, has structure.- Sergei Gepshtein

 
 
 
 
 

Experience Card

The culmination of our research led us to create cards that included our four attributes that assess a person's experience. Early in the process, we found that a place might have multiple, different, and unique experiences specific to the individual and a card is needed for each experience. To download the Experience Card, please click here

 
 
 

Overview of Experience Card

Our diagram represents the whole picture of experience design.  The whole is divided into four attributes we have identified. The areas of the quadrants can be scaled based on their impact on the experience.  For example, if the social component of an experience is very high, the greater the area of that quadrant will be. The interior measure is divided into 10 rings so the experiential attribute can be rated on a 1-10 scale.  The exterior circle is the memory component. We encourage you to fill out the memory line a day or two after you leave the experience.

 
 
 
 
 

Case Studies

 

The below case studies are a collection of our experiences over the past two months. This collection is intended to assist an individual in assessing an experiential design.

 
 
 
 Featured: The Shedd Aquarium

Featured: The Shedd Aquarium

 Featured: California Academy of Sciences

Featured: California Academy of Sciences

 
 
 Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium

 Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium

 Torrey Pines Gliderport

Torrey Pines Gliderport

 California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

 De Young Museum

De Young Museum

 
 
 Exploratorium

Exploratorium

 Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry

 NeoCon 2018

NeoCon 2018

 Salk Institue

Salk Institue

 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

 
 
 The Shedd Aquarium 

The Shedd Aquarium 

 The Tech Museum of Innovation

The Tech Museum of Innovation

 The Wave Organ

The Wave Organ

 Under Armour Brand House

Under Armour Brand House

 
 
 
 
 

Miscellaneous Tidbits

Throughout this process, we explored endless content by casting a wide net to ensure we were looking into every possibility. This lead to many long nights, and rabbit holes of information. Below is a small collection of our ‘random’ findings.

 
 
 Stanford d.school Website

Stanford d.school Website

 The Museum As A Digital Storyteller, Museum Hack

The Museum As A Digital Storyteller, Museum Hack

 teamLab Borderless

teamLab Borderless

 
 
 Lava Centre

Lava Centre

 Leviathan's Dolby Gallery, Leviathan

Leviathan's Dolby Gallery, Leviathan

 Allen Instittue for Brain Science, Lara Swimmer Photogrpahy, Gudmudur Ibsen Photogrpahy 

Allen Instittue for Brain Science, Lara Swimmer Photogrpahy, Gudmudur Ibsen Photogrpahy 

 
 
 150 Media Stream Video Installation, Leviathan

150 Media Stream Video Installation, Leviathan

 
 Eat Popcorn with chopsticks, Antonio/IStock (hand), Paket/Istock (popcorn)

Eat Popcorn with chopsticks, Antonio/IStock (hand), Paket/Istock (popcorn)

 Archive Dreaming, Refik Anadol

Archive Dreaming, Refik Anadol

 Maslow's Hierachy of Needs, Joshua Seong

Maslow's Hierachy of Needs, Joshua Seong

 Museum of Ice Cream, Jake Stangel

Museum of Ice Cream, Jake Stangel

 Fitbit Commercial, Argonaut Ad Agency

Fitbit Commercial, Argonaut Ad Agency

 
 
 MindWave

MindWave

 
 
 
 
 

Conclusion & Future Steps

 
 

We have developed and tested a framework and are leaving behind a tool you to use.  The more qualitative data we can collect, the more concrete our insights are. Experiential design is a new typology that architects and designers are beginning to understand and analyze.  Exploring this concepts together, in a multidisciplinary way, we will advance our collective knowledge.

 

Call to Action:

Print an experience card for yourself (download here). Take it with you wherever you go and fill it out and share it on social media with #experiencedesign and we can develop our collective knowledge together!

 

Questions for the Future: 

  • Is one quality of a designed experience more important in forming memory?Which of the senses is most important to memory?  To learning?
  • What can we learn from topical social experiences that pop up (Happy Place, 29 Room, etc.)?
  • What industry will use experiential design the most in the future?
  • What are the other tools we can use to measure experience design?
  • After collecting a large sample of individuals using the Experience Card, how could we change it to reflect new-found data?
  • How could we utilize the technology from the Mind-Wave exhibit at the Tech Museum to use as a tool for exploring different experiences.
  • How do demographics inform different experiences?  
  • How do cultures influence experiential design? 

 

Instagram Feed: #experiencedesign