26 May, 2009

Design Your Own Experience

By LuAnne Silvia

The word “experience” comes up often at our weekly office meeting in our discussions about our design work and also regarding all aspects of our lives. We realize that experiences don’t always just happen, but that we all have the ability to create our own experiences. This ability shapes our role as designers and becomes more important because we are impacting our client’s environments. What kind of experience do we want our clients to have while working with us? During their design project? In their finished space?


An established furniture designer, Dakota Jackson, was in town recently giving a seminar about his work. Listening to him reflect on his career it was clear that he was in fact reflecting on the sum of his life experiences thus far and how thinking about the experience drives his approach to design. He spoke about the influence of his magician father that led him to wanting to have the experience of catching a bullet in his teeth. He spoke about dancing. He recalls feeling absolutely sick and dizzy and dancing anyway to have the experience. He learned to think about everything in terms of the experience, including his career as a furniture designer. This approach guides him into translating a musical piece he listened to into a chair to sit on. He shared a photo of two men sitting on one of his chair designs in a library and declared that it is not about the design of the chair, or even the chair itself, rather it is about the experience these two men are having sitting on the chairs: meeting, talking and connecting with one another. His designs are backgrounds for creating experiences. He has carefully cultivated his own society in his furniture company. All employees bring something unique to the table: background, language, history, culture, interpretations. They are encouraged to speak up and to speak “fake French” every Wednesday. On Wednesdays everyone must speak with a fake French accent. Sounds like an experience to me!


We think the richest experiences in life come from intentional thought. We also believe that both the final design and the process are equally essential parts of the experience of designing an environment. There are many elements that make up good design, but the more compelling designs are a result of contemplating the experience you want to have arriving home, the journey traveling from room to room and the time spent in each space of your home.

Take a look at these interiors and consider how these environments might shape your experience in them.


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