In a world of constant distraction, how do you make a worthwhile connection that lasts?
This is the question that brands and service providers are asking across all industries, and are increasingly coming to the same conclusion; that in order to capture the imagination and loyalty of customers, you need to speak to the senses and create emotive responses. Over the last 5 years, more and more companies are creating immersive experiences that seek to offer tangible moments that can be savoured, and engage the customer on a personal level.
Ahead of London Design Festival, we speak to designjunction and some of their popular exhibitors about the importance of creating an immersive experience in the design world.
“Too often, we’re walking through life and not thinking about where we are and what we’re doing”, states Vicki Leach, Design Manager at British furniture brand Deadgood. “It takes something interesting, beautiful or thoughtful to snap us out of it.
“Take the JUMP IN! art installation for example: a room filled with 81,000 white balls. Its aim was to raise awareness of the work done by charity Right To Play, who transform the lives of children across the world by encouraging them to play, by showing people how differently they felt after playing in a giant ball pit. The end result was both dazzling and fun and will stay with the people who attended for years to come. And that’s what the immersive experience should be about – celebrating life’s wonderful moments.”
This desire for sensory stimulation is already shaping interiors – one of the key themes in our recent trend report with WGSN was ‘Visceral Design’. Looks that engage the senses allow us switch off from technology and lose ourselves in the moment. Swedish furniture company Lammhults had this in mind when they decided to update their iconic Campus chair for its Silver Anniversary.
“We wanted to take a 25-year old design and put it in a new light”, Carolina Ericsson, their Marketing Communications Manager informs us. “So we worked with HOPE, a Swedish fashion label, to create something playful that piqued people’s interest.”
Soft materials (such as velvet) and warm metals are key to the visceral trend because of their tactile aesthetic – information that HOPE and Lammhults used in their design. “The finished result was industrial meets natural. It has a sturdier feel than the original Campus chair and comes with a removable sheep plaid cover. This cover, as well as the orange, striped upholstery underneath, creates a comforting feel – we found that there was a lot of touching and playing around with these materials when customers were looking at the chairs. And when you combine this with the 24 carat gold-plated frame, you end up with a contrast that is pleasing for both the eye as well as the fingers.”
But it’s not just about creating products or spaces with a more sensorial experience. Carolina also thinks that the world of interiors needs to focus more on these elements in promotion and marketing – just as other industries have. “Creating some sort of reaction is key to getting into people’s minds. Rather than just displaying a product, we need to give our customers an experience that was unexpected – this will make sure they remember the company or product, and make them interested to learn more”.
Since its first show in 2011, the trade show designjunction has focused on finding the best surroundings to showcase products and suppliers. As well as believing that the juxtaposition of contemporary design against a raw, industrial backdrop is ideal for making an impact (their home is in the gorgeous Granary Square in Kings Cross), the designjunction team also encourage their exhibitors to make an impression.
“Several years ago, it became clear to us that the brands that were thriving at designjunction were those that embraced the experiential and attempted to do something a little different”, Will Sorrell, Director of designjunction tells us. “We noticed that people who considered the five senses when creating their exhibition stands were having people spend more time with them – talking about their business and products. The brands with sensory elements had better brand engagement and made more sales. So we began to focus on this interactive element more and more.”
This year, several experiential installations will appear in the feature area of designjunction – creating an outdoor feast for the senses. Turkishceramics, working with artist Adam Nathaniel Furman, are staging a series of colourful, tiled gates for visitors to move through. Aiming to explore the history of ceramics in Turkey, each of the four gates encompasses a different design story for people to walk through and touch.
Also in the square, flowery delivery service bloomon will be creating a sweet-smelling walkway. Covered in pastel blooms inside and out, visitors will move into the tunnel before walking through a hidden door to enter an intimate, flower-filled space where discussions and presentations will be held. And, for those concerned about their taste buds being ignored, Campari will be on hand in a customised narrowboat. Over their two-week residency, there will be a series of mixology masterclasses as well as an art installation celebrating the brand’s history.
Interior design is one of the few industries that has always understood the power of the environment to impact state of mind. We’re excited to see more industries and designs embracing a more experiential approach!
designjunction takes place 21-24 September at Granary Square, Kings Cross. You can get your trade ticket here. eporta are the digital partners of designjunction and you can find us at Cubitt Park, stand P15.