A Sense of Wonder

We were lucky enough to be part of a presentation from Shaw Contract Group recently about tying in our senses to the every day – to finding wonder in the little and big in the world, and to incorporate it into design. It was invigorating to find out so many of us are on the same page regarding various design concepts, how they affect, surprise and inspire us. The bottom line is that we relate all of our senses to color and design – and by we I don’t mean only designers, I mean everyone.

Shaw put into words how we can relate colors and senses to designs. How do you provoke your senses? What inspires you? Floating shapes to luminous color – find a way to incorporate this into your daily life and design.


photo courtesy of Shaw

Touch/Tactile – is the cornerstone of human experiences from the very beginning of life. Raw edges are celebrated. Using sensory materials creates an entirely different experience.

Sight – How are we intrigued by our illusions that can alter reality? What is real? What is an illusion? Iris Apfel is a bountiful combination of color, style and, of course, with signature glasses for sight… Use design objects to change the vibe in a room: Frosted glass can create an ethereal feel.

Time – the passage of time and texture of place, how to re-create memories and revisit the past, return to our heritage and to what helped make us who we are. There are many ways to tie in our past with the present and future. Think of rustic or patina finishes – the personal touches of mixing modern with traditional.

Sense of place – What makes a place unique to you? What is home? Personal, cultural and meaningful life experiences, that revive and renew traditional techniques. There is a clear need for attachment and belonging within a community. We see the strong community ties in tribal patterns that show a strong tie to the physical and spiritual place.

Balance – it can be such a buzz word but it’s true: everyone is seeking that sense of balance, to be present and engage in the now. It’s a struggle to try toto free our minds and reconnect with something that is greater than ourselves. In the most simplified way, we try to achieve balance through the use of natural materials; reduce stress by altering the physical environment. Try a digital detox; logoff Facebook, find perspective and peace of mind from within instead of from with out.

Taste – Happiness is only real when shared. In the simplest form, happiness can be found to the dining table, with a shared savory experience.

Wonder – Emotional and intellectual responses to “in the moment”, surreal and spontaneous: use elements of surprise and discovery in design. Embrace the chaotic. Play on color and shapes and how they can completely alter a space and the feel of a space.

Possibility – this is where we are most imaginative, futuristic, endless possibilities and concepts; the next industrial revolution is around the corner. Life and technology will be smarter, faster and more sustainable

Be playful, be aware, be present and know where you are, where you want to go and where you’ve come from. It all ties into great, rewarding design.

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