The shape of experience
The meaning of the word experience, which comes from the Latin word experientia (to test or try) has expanded to a current usage that encompasses a totality of cognition; to include all that is perceived, understood, and remembered. An experience is inherently active. In order to know something we must participate, and the presence and movement of the human body in relationship to the surroundings that frame it is therefore an important design consideration. To craft the desired experience, the designer must be able to choreograph a narrative sequence. “What and how do I feel?, “Does this experience make a difference?, and, if so, “What kind of a difference does it make? These are some of the questions that need to be asked, and answered, by design and using design language.63 Such qualitative, sensory knowledge is necessary to inform conceptual and pragmatic design decisions that interweave functional and structural requirements with the designed spatial arrangement, organization, accessibility, visibility, and the intended overall experience. Design has the greatest experiential impact when crafted for the journey, its discovery, and the arrival.
Aside from fulfilling purely functional requirements, designers should be able to arrange a space and its objects in a meaningful composition. Furniture design Incorporating choices that return intellectual control of the experience to the user encourages more exploration, which in turn allows new and unenvisioned or unanticipated experiences to be created.
Gestalt: creation of the whole
Good design inherently embodies the concept of gestalt: a successful integration of constituent parts that produces a single, unified experience. This experience is a matter of perception
“Structures, Shashi Caan Textile Collections, 2004. Pattern, texture, and color combined can weave a rich tapestry of sensory delight. However, when movement is carefully evolved and traced through pattern to become slow enough to activate a sense of discovery yet fast enough to hold mental stimulation, the human brain comprehends and can simultaneously be free to “wonder and calmly address other issues. These patterns demonstrate the controlled differences of shape and scale for a mental and sensory stimulation.
And happens when all elements – from the biggest gesture to the smallest detail or flourish – fuse into a whole that the individual parts did not foretell. This unification cannot be summed up in purely aesthetic terms. To achieve gestalt in design requires connecting the formal and phenomenological (the intentionally embedded) with an unexpected change of meaning. This change of meaning must then be illustrated in all the constituent parts and through the essential qualitative criteria (the choreographed narrative of an intended experience) that are only partially expressed or witnessed in art. The gestalt experience, then, fuses all elements of design. It represents a holistic completion of the whole.
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