Community Music Works Fellow Shawn LeSure performing by the Dainichi Buddha in the RISD Museum (March 2015)
How can all of our senses be used to design and communicate experience?
As graphic designers we tend to privilege a visual perspective. But experience actually relies on all our senses (touch, sound, smell, taste, visual), inevitably part of one’s total nature for experience. When we set out to capture experience, with the goal of informing others, can we do so in multiple dimensions? How might we use all of our senses to enhance understanding? In this unit, we’ll look at translating sensory input — in the form of a fully immersive, shared experience at the RISD Museum — into experiential output.
You will begin by setting aside expectations and entering the RISD Museum with a beginner’s mind, searching for discrete moments that you connect to using an array of senses. You will identify five of these sensory “inputs” — experiences in the museum that are important to you — and record them in some way. These inputs will be developed, expanded and refined into a series of five output expressions that communicates some aspect of the museum to a public audience.
Think of this project as an investigation in experiential design at the scale of the body in physical space, with the museum collections, gallery spaces, surfaces, sounds and smells as your content. How will you record, develop, design and articulate this experience in ways that capture the essence of your content? How might your design project go beyond the conventions for marketing an arts institution?
— Learn to sharpen sensory input into rich output
— Explore design experientially as a means to understanding
— Develop products that reflect information and experience
— Develop an understanding of relational design (user experience, social context, environment)
Part 1: Five inputs (1.5 weeks)
— Engage with the RISD Museum.
— Use all senses to explore and inquire: sight (seeing), sound (hearing), touch (feeling), smell (olfactory), taste (oral). Note that time may also be used as another “sense.”
— Record your experiences.
— Communicate your experiences to the studio.
Part 2: Development (1 week)
— Focus on at least two experiences from the museum.
— Expand these into multiple ideas and forms.
Part 3: Five outputs (2 weeks)
— Consider your audience and develop the ideas into a project that communicates your sensory experience of the museum.
— Design your project into five outputs that express the museum experience.
— Prototype your design.
— Work collaboratively to present an installation of your projects in the GD Commons.
Things to consider:
— How do you communicate personal values and insights from your experience?
— What are the platforms and media to best communicate your ideas?
— Can others (teams, sharing) help you appreciate the value to the whole?
— What role does time play in sensory experience?
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