Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


September 22, 2009

Sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch: the five senses are how we experience design.  All of the senses are important, but I believe the most important sense is touch.  People and see and hear spaces and smell and taste the air all from a distance.  But you have to be in the space, experiencing it from a closer perspective to understand all of the textures in the room. 

The sensory experience of discomfort is universal throughout the human race.  Some people can deal with tremendous amounts or pain, others with irritating noises, and some with extreme environmental factors.  However, physical discomfort without pain sparks irritation in everyone.  This discomfort is easily, and often, remedied but it is rarely enhanced and pushed further through design.  Most of these devices are meant for exercise, not for fashion or appeal.  I wanted to change this and make a device that pushed the boundaries of discomfort while creating a visually appealing piece.

My design captures and heightens physical discomfort.  From the feel of the garment against the skin to the tremendous weight, my design intensifies suffering.  Made from a rigid fabric, the piece is fitted to the body as it hugs the small of the back and wraps around to form to the stomach.  The front of the garment grows up in a corset like manner and prohibits the wearer from bending at the waist, instead the structure forces the wearer to stand up straight.  Stemming from the fitted back, a huge bustle covers the buttocks and extends to the upper thighs.  With its multiple bouncing layers, the bustle adds weight and mass to the region and pulls the front section closer to the body, allowing even less forward movement.   The bustle is stiff and is not uncomfortable to press against, so the wearer is unable to sit down and relieve fatigue.   Discomfort is prevalent throughout my design and it functions to make the wearer as physically uncomfortable as possible.

Although my design does serve the purpose to further pain and suffering that does not mean that it cannot be pretty.  With symmetrical front stemming from a uniform pattern restricting movement, to the balanced bustle with an almost random organization of modules, the design screams girly and feminine.   There is nothing masculine about this design.   My design allows for beauty and suffering to coexist and be joined in an object. 

Within a space the garment restricts the wearer to walking or standing in the room.  The wearer is unable to relax in the space, but it might allow the wearer to experience the space in a new way.  Rooms are often viewed at a passing glance or at taken in slowly, but with this garment the rooms could be seen an entirely new way, taking everything in while meandering around to take the users mind of off the discomfort they are feeling.


Opaque-A Sensory Experience

September 22, 2009



When talking about a sensory experience there is one place that always strikes my mind first. Opaque, is a restaurant located in only in three locations in California. This restaurant is not the common gourmet restaurant; Opaque provides a unique and unforgettable sensory experience to each one of its customers.

Upon arrival customers are directed to a lounge were they can enjoy a few cocktails before dinner. Here, they are asked to check in all personal belongings and choose two different dinner options from the menu before proceeding to the main dinning room.  The dinning room is a pitch-black room where even the waiters are unable to see. Staff members are thoroughly trained to carry on with their duties without light but when needed they work with the aid of a night vision camera.

Dinner begins just as in a normal restaurant, but here the customer does not know which of the two dinner options they are being served. The idea behind this kind of experience is to enhance the other four senses while taking sight away. When the food is brought out the customer needs to touch around their table in order to find the silverware, napkins and food. At first, eating can be somewhat complicated, many have admitted missing their mouth with the food completely or hitting their nose instead of the lips with the rim of the glass. While trying to get the plate-to-mouth in the dark coordination, the senses of smell and taste are also being tested. Several have said that the food tastes differently because they are not relying on the appearance of the food to influence its taste. People tend to create certain expectations on how the food should tasted based on its appearance. Another sense that is affected during this experience is sound. While eating, the customers tend to engage with the people are seated with. Having a regular conversation is also a very different experience to perform in the dark. Trying to figure out who is saying what and where is their voice coming from tests the sense of hearing to a maximum.

After one or two hours of enjoying dinner in the dark, customers are allowed to leave and pay at the exit. Here they are also told what they were served. It is not surprising to find a customer that claim they ate chicken when in fact they had beef. By enhancing these senses the client becomes more aware of the importance of sight in such a common activity.

This space provides a very interesting experience because is takes an everyday activity and turns it into a complete overhaul of the senses. Not a lot of people realize all the senses used during this common activity, and while many will dislike this restaurant, others will remember it forever not only for its great food, but also for the unique sensory experience offered to the customers.

The Sense of Space and Touch

September 21, 2009

When I started school at the University of Texas at Austin in Interior Design, I was very interested in multifunctional or multi-purposed spaces. This focus led me to become interested in multifunctional furniture. In Design III, one of our projects was to make over a gazebo on Town Lake. I decided to make it a coffee bar/ café. In an attempt to create juxtaposition to the surrounding nature I used two types of chairs with modern twists on classic designs. However I ran into a problem. Some of the chairs I liked did not come chair height, and others did not come bar or counter height. Naturally, I designed them to the appropriate height for the space. By the end of the project I decided that the contrasting chairs were interchangeable in their locations within the space however I would need both types to come in both seat heights. Thus, I designed interchangeable legs with different heights. And what is unique about them is that the body of the chair is not normally seen at bar height. (See images)DHB blog 5 Product Design

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In the aspect of sensory information I believe the freedom to change the height of your body in a specific seat may have a positive effect. It is very similar to an office chair. No one can deny when they were little, they liked to rise up an office chair, pull the lever, and let is sink down. Other than an office chair there are various experiences we have with changing heights in an interior. What about a salon chair? Getting on a bus? The bus lowers itself to the curb to facilitate better access. Freedom to use these items in different situations helps create a flexible space. The more thought I put into the design right now, I wish I had designed a way for the larger legs to store under the seat or inside the shorter legs.

Continuing in my quest for multifunctional furniture I moved on from changing height on a chair to a chair that could become a table. In Design VI, our project site was the Schneider Building on Guadalupe and 2nd street. We were to turn it into a two-purposed space with one part being a house for the mayor of Austin. In my design, I proposed a museum of the Schneider building as well as the City of Austin. On the first floor, I designed projected photos with accompanying music appropriate of the time of the photograph. To be able to enjoy the sensory experience I created a chair that sat back to back. However, when time came around for a banquet, conference meeting, private party, or even a campaign party, the chairs flip over and turn into a table. For this specific project I designed there to be LED lights in the chair with a resin base as the structure. This picks up on the sense of sight stimulating the mind to rethink what source light comes from.

The experience of the chair itself can be a sensory experience. If the chair-table is used as a dining table a unique experience occurs. The padding and fabric, once turned into a table, acts as a tactile surface in an uncommon place: the top of the thighs and the shins. In a space that is usually cold, it may act as a blanket or exactly what it is: a tactile experience. I can only imagine the realm of textures that would work in certain situations. However the padding and fabric could not weigh on the lap or constrict the guest or it would be a negative sensory experience.

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For my current project, we are renovating the 1940s Buttrey Building on 6th and Colorado St. Exploring the time period, my group found interest in the swanky style of the flappers and mobsters. I can just see a faux fur (real fur is bad J! Go Peta) club chair with a flat dark wood back turning into a large table, reminiscent of the fox, chinchilla, rabbits, and mink wraps.

Sensory Experience-nature pillows

September 21, 2009

I find myself to be extremely sensitive to sounds. Normal day-to-day noises which most people tend to tune out, I find rather bothersome and I can’t help but focus my attention on them. Ticks, pings, coughs, sniffs, taps, clicks, etc; they all disturb my precious silence. I sleep with earplugs and or a sound machine to block out random unnecessary noises from disturbing my sleep. The sound I enjoy the most is rain; I absolutely love falling asleep to this sound. The real thing is obviously much preferred over my sound machine, but considering Texas weather, it’s quite the rarity. It does baffle me why some noises bother me so much more than others; I can fall asleep with the television on which many others cannot, but the sound of crickets outside my window drives me insane while others adore it. The funny thing is, even my sound machine has started to become an issue. As I lay in bed listening to the rain, I find myself tuning in so closely that I can point out the patterns; I know exactly when the track repeats itself. Also, depending on what position I am in, my hearing can be somewhat obscured.

I chose to create a product that not only comforts me with sound, but with touch as well. Instead of having a sound machine beside my bed, how about having tiny, thin speakers within a pillow? Two comforts are much better than one. I can fall asleep with my head softly against the sounds of a babbling brook, for example. Unlike the pillow speakers currently on the market, there wouldn’t be external hookups, everything would be internal. To escape the problem of the repeating tracks, the recording should be long enough so that repetition cannot be distinguished. In addition, the electronics inside shall be waterproof so it can be used in the tub as well. I’ve always wanted a terry cloth pillow for when I take bubble baths; resting my neck and head against a porcelain tub is not comfortable at all. I chose terry cloth because of its versatility; it works well either wet or dry. Being submerged in water while listening to the sounds of a stream mate to create an incredibly relaxing experience. Our senses have a way of transporting us somewhere other than reality, and with this pillow I can escape from my annoying apartment noises and frat boys across the street, to nature. Sound regulates our emotions and soundscaping with natural sounds clams us quickly.