Aren’t you curious about what happens when designers embrace senses other than sight?

Textures, contours, smells, sights, and sounds surround us constantly and simultaneously. As designers, we should consider all of the senses when designing, not only to better connect with our audience but also to be more inclusive.
Curiousbrand Team
April 19, 2023

When encountering a design, each person brings their own personal history with them. The aroma of chalk or the sound of it rasping against a chalkboard can bring back memories of elementary school. Drinking hot chocolate by a fire can transport you back to childhood vacations. Many of the senses other than sight are often overlooked by graphic designers, but typography and design are multisensory experiences that can engage everything from touch to sound.

When we design for all five senses, we create a richer, more meaningful, and more personal experience for everyone, while also accommodating those who must rely on one sense more heavily. Designers have historically underutilized the multisensory opportunities available to them, but a growing number of designers and artists are utilizing mediums other than purely visual to welcome a wider range of audiences.

"Is It Art or Is It Type?" asks Meg Miller. In her essay "What We Learn When Language Is Built, Not Written," she discusses how type designers frequently "think of language as something physical, as matter." They disassemble and reassemble it, creating an alphabet out of its constituent shapes."Designers who consider typographic traits through personification, physical construction, and other means open up new avenues for user experiences.

Design isn't just for looking at. It should also be heard, smelled, tasted, and touched. Designers experience type through calligraphy, 3D printing, and the creation of installations. Letterform visualizations can even influence what our other senses perceive. Without thinking about it, we eat lettering on birthday cakes. Does Hershey's have a chocolate flavor? Can a brand be flavored? Would the chocolate taste different if the text was removed? Blind taste tests indicate that it would, as studies have shown that people perceive different flavors depending on which brand they believe they are tasting.

Take a look at Meaghan Dee’s article on The Inclusive World of Multisensory Typography to see a few senses that designers have embraced: