It’s ok to admit it. Everybody wants it. In fact, in most places it is expected. Emotional Interface, that is.
What is Emotional Interface you ask? If you are a web-designer you are well familiar with the name and the concept. What works in the virtual world should work in the real world too, no? Architects and interior designers could learn a thing or three from our virtual design world cousins. In 2010, Aarron Walter, Director of User Experience at Mail Chimp gave a presentation called “Learning to Love Humans”. In his presentation, he says:
“Humans, though cute and cuddly, are not without their flaws, which makes designing for them a challenge. By understanding how the wet, mushy processor works in these hairy little devils, you can design interfaces and web experiences that will have them hopelessly devoted to your brand.”
Our ancient ancestors were very good at Emotional Interface. For them, it was as simple as sitting around a fire pit, sharing stories, dancing, meditating and posting the days events on the cave wall. So, if you have linked, shared or participated in a space then you may have achieved Emotional Interface. Human needs dictate that we require functional, reliable, usable and pleasurable spaces. You know when one of these elements is missing in a space: Where is the door? Is this the right door? Can I open the door? Wow, the door opened for me!! A positive Emotional Interface experience = pleasure.
Technology plays a huge roll in making our living spaces more pleasurable. From old tech like refrigerators and vacuums to new tech like the AI thermostat “nest”. They all have a function that can make life a little easier for us. Although both creepy and awesome, the “nest” thermostat learns your room temperature desired patterns so that one day you just leave it alone and it will just know what temperature you want your room to be. It is kind of like raising a child… but then there is always the teenage years… “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave? Dave, I really think I’m entitled to an answer to that question.” … or for the younger crowd … “The cake is a lie”.
The spaces that you create for yourself tell the world of your values… you are visually communicating your brand as it were. What are you telling the world about yourself? Our cultural and social upbringing influences how we feel about the spaces we inhabit and our expectations of what they should give us. Restaurants are a good example of expectation of an emotional interface. Depending on the quality of the food and prices on the menu, we expect a restaurant to deliver an equal or better offering in service and the physical environment. Food, service and decor are the Holy Trinity of a successful restaurant… just ask effing Gordon Ramsay!! … aaaaaand we expect it to work out or we give an unfavourable review and the relationship ends. It is harsh, but like Mr. Walter says, designing for us hairy little devils is a challenge.
“Interior spaces are often the primary interface between users and the built environment and can have a marked influence on our sense of belonging, comfort, emotion and productivity.” Arqua Design
Every element of design in our environment plays an emotional toll on our soul. The shape, size, colour and texture create a composition of balance, contrast, pattern, proportion and more … that’s a lot of combinations and permutations that could go horribly wrong!! Be kind to the design!! Know that everything evolves, the designers are taking note of what works and doesn’t and there is always another toy arriving to distract us from those pesky negative emotions and give us one more pleasurable experience.
“The only intuitive interface is the nipple. After that it’s all learned.” – Bruce Ediger