A quick scan of the dictionary shows nothing, just words that are “around” this spelling—experience and experientially. I thought when I first used it that I’d made it up. But there is more to it—from two sides: one]—from the Latin, experiri—which is to “try.” And two, that outreach of expansion—the other outcome of experiri—experiment.
The smoke of experience design—like fume, sensation is an invasive proposition. Sure, it’s about the gustatory—the taste tier, the olfactory—the scent of things, the auditory—the sound of experience. Tactility—the touching sensation. Visual—the visualization of contact.
But there is, as well, three other tiers of spatiality—
how we sense space and our contact with it, wholly.
Vestibular—our sense of balance in place in space, our head, in relationship to the earth—gravity—movement: acceleration, deceleration. “Where are we?”
And “where is my hand, my leg, my body—what’s happening with it?”
And the perception of condition, which is interrelating these sensitive attributes—
“I’m hungry. I’m hot. I’m tired.”
When you examine the circumstances of where you are, what you’re sensing—all of these elements come into play. Touch, orientation, sensation of place in space, what you see, hear, smell and taste—and what, how are you “feeling about it?”
Photography above: @dacarc
Could you design for them? In a momentary startling of a bird, what I mostly noticed was its disorientation—slowly, how to get back to it—making that bird’s spherical world rightfully disposed and balanced?
As we work through a brandquest® study—a team workshopping of brand-making in place, we’re exploring the holism of sensationalism: it comes down to that long-running examination of “what’s the story, who’s telling it, what’s it sound like—feel like, what’s its touch,scent, sound, taste—how does it balance?”
We’ve been contemplating place. And what happens in the making of place. And what happens to humans, in experience—it comes in everywhere, comes out, everywhere. When you contemplate place, how do you think about it?
A place of memory—what’s first to mind?
What reMinds you?
To epitomize that exploration, that meditation, what would be the best modeling? Scent, perhaps? Light? Coloration? Shadow? Touch? Materiality—what’s most memorable?
Point is, how does what describe and organize those sensations, go back, come forward.
One might think—the most memorable place: where to eat?
There are few experiential design projects that are more sensately complex than restaurants. Holistically, restaurant experiences reach to every facet of human sensation. And they are about telling stories in a sequence of layers — a sphere of connections to experience. Sight, scent, taste, touch, sound — and finally balance—gravity, the instinctual intuition of self impression, vibe and reactivity—“I see this place, and now I’m hungry!” If you will: memory—could that be a sensation? All of the collective sensations then summarize as a messaged gateway to the past, well-recalled.
We believe that experience design reaches to all of these places—the first five, the initiating connection; these are the obvious, the first elements of sensation. Then it comes to how sensation is organized as a orientated expression—it feels like this: with gravity.
I walk back to other brand development encounters and relationships—to experience strategy, that comes to the people component of experientiality. People to people.
There’s more, to the context of human connection—and that’s the people that run a place to eat in, celebrating savoring. I was reading about some other friends, other restauranteurs — and one that I’d worked with, connected with earlier. Sirio Maccioni.
Photograph by: John Lei/The New York Times/Redux
And there’s a greater and more expansive story there: about humanity, sensation in the warmth of connection: experience design management. To my link with him—and to restaurant leadership, is about these sensibilities—all of them; the focused outreach and alignment, as well, in the human touch. All of the senses are there—and in the leadership; it’s about the guidance of the brand and the expression of that brand, that story in the relatedness of personal reach. It’s that touch, that celebrates hospitality. This, in a way, concretes all of the eight experiences — the interweaving. Human to human. Now, there’s an added dimensionality. More of a reach.
There are complex levels of layering—deeper, more emotional levels of contact; these might be sensed as psychic interplay, where the five senses support an enveloping depth—a greater sensitivity—in the sphere of balance, the context of intuition and instinctual, reactive vibration; and finally, the capturing vessel of memory.
What I personally believe—what we hold to, is that if a person comes in contact with a place that we’ve been involved in creating, then I need to be, the design team needs to be, contemplating the design elements first in obvious play—and comprehending that there will be more to consider in deeper levels of experiential meditation. Deep stating.
What is the reflective sense of containing memory; what is the vibrational response; and finally, how is the person balanced in the experience of place?
It’s not about the obvious things—it’s more about what lies deeper in the play of how place is made. And in a manner of speaking, creating design is always about the opening, and more obvious, grouping of solutions—and then there is what lies beneath that veneer, to more integral framing of human connection. I’ve been writing about—we’ve been exploring—that idea of the human brand for years now, and as I get further into the work, I realize that I understand more—but that there is far more, as well, to learn. And it’s never about objective qualification—it’s more so about subjective experiment, experience and result.
Dawn Clark at a GIRVIN brand charrette
Brand design, experience design, we walk back to a string of explorations. One example?
Working on PearlBellevue, with architect Dawn Clark and interior designer Robert Norwood, as well as the owners Bradley Dickinson, Mikel Rogers as well as operational strategist Arnold Shain—our visioning was to find the heart of the story and then team-telling that comprehensively in the detailing of experience development—in mere months from the opening planning strategic initiation.
It opened; it’s rocked; it evolves.
But this is about the journey that got us from the dream to the realization—actualizing opening the doors, workshopping soul, sensuality and an overarching conceptualization that went from a name, to an entire interior design and branding proposition.
Transforming ideas to action.
There is poetry in Pearl
Pearl is the quintessence of the mother ocean, who is, in primordial spirit, the matrix of us all.
Finding a sense of story, brand, strategy in making place—the process is always about finding the heart, the heat of instinct, in the center of sensate interconnection—they are always woven, interlaced, in creative action. Balance, instinct, memory.
So in working out the detailing of the place, beyond the mere expression of hollow space….
Transforming old: Trader Vic’s left;
new: pearlescent custom paint, right.
It was a matter of gathering that sense of the polished, concreted refinement of the deep sea, the cooly warm—the lustrous—the layered, the transparent, the veiled— and thinking about how to capture that spirit in the eight dimensions of sensation in the human context. But in the coolness of that pearlessence, it’s further about the person in play—that is holistically reflective; it is the one, the leading ownership of the brand—Bradley and Mikel’s dream state, it is the other — the guest. How do they reflect each other, how do they connect with each other — what warmth in hospitality is renewed? The guest: “You link with me, as my host, I’ll recall that connection, share it with others, the legacy of warming interconnectivity is extended. Of course, in many ways, this is entirely the proposition of Danny Meyers’s “guest first and reach-out and touch everyone proposition.”
Creating luminous paints, to pearlize Pearl.
So we look for textural connections that are—and are not; they are there, and they are not; there’s something to touch; and there’s something there that—like a veil—is a filter to other levels of conscious experience.
In our thinking about art, we float ideas and sensibilities that are smoke, vapor, veil, layering—it’s about what you see, what you sense, and what you do not. And therein lies the story—we draw you in, draw you out. But it’s the drawing itself that counts—there has to be that opening gesture to the made. Well.
We reach beneath the surface. And it’s there that the 3 other senses come into play. Balance is your sense of place in the context of a sphere—it’s your balance in the world—it’s the gyroscope of your psychic / physic place. Balance is your vessel in perception.
And then, to the centering of memory—WHERE ARE YOU IN THAT BALANCE—AND WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE?
WHERE DOES IT GO, WHAT BECOMES OF IT?
The recollection: the sense of instinct and intuition. What you sense is based on the final gathering of millions of points of input; it’s your moment, it’s your memory—and in sensing anything, your reaction will be about instinct—your intuitive sense of your place in the moment. We design there; we build on our instinct, to speak to your intuition—and the whole sensuality of the moment, in momentum.
Bar place, brand space.
The layering of touch, and sight, mixed with scent and sound, tinged with taste, imagines the other senses in play — balance, your place in space; instinct intuited, vibration tingling and memory recalled. The voice of experience is whole.
Exploring a steely reflectivity – silvered luster.
So in a way, Pearl is an experiment in experience — it’s about reaching to the levels of Pearl, symbolically — herself — layering, veiling, enveloping, concealing beauty in beauty. And, finding the heart of the brand — that story — in the center of place. Drawn in, your memory in experience transcribes the encounter. And hopefully, you’ll not forget it. All of the eight senses are interwoven in a tapestry of connection. The guest is the nexus of the brand experience. At the center…
Seat. Eat, Treat.
More, experimented and explored, here:
Actualizing dreams of place-making—the quintessence : I
Pearlessence: II [brand poetics]
Working in Parma & NYC — brand storytelling a place dreamed: III
Really, what’s cool: IV
Story V | The dream of patterning story, as a place, made, well.
Story VI The making of place: dream of healing—the future patterning.
The Human touch, contacting…
Pearl team, launch day.
*Experientiality — design thinking founded on a multi-sensory strategy of experience development: integrated holism.
Tim | Seattle Waterfront
BUILDING HOLISTIC DINING BRANDS
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