SENSES ARE THE CHANNELS BY WHICH WE EXPERIENCE
One way to describe what an experience is could be a complete sensory immersion. The idea that within an instance the participant can interact with their surroundings, be that a space, objects and/or people, in a manner that is fully captivating so they leave the situation having come to a conclusion about the time they have spent there. Through the sense we are able to highlight the aspects of an experience and then draw ideas and feelings from these findings.
As a basic model the Aristotelian senses consist of the 5 common notions of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. These 5 way finding methods of assessing the world we live in suggest how we interact with our surroundings thus gaining experiences. However, in todays day and age is this model outdated, can it be questioned? The research and writings of David Howes would suggest so. In his Sixth Sense Reader (2009) he refers to an adapted table produced by Dunic, 2005. As a radical model it could be proposed that there are 33 senses, each comprised from our bodies abilities to understand and translate the world around us and ourselves internally into tangible beings. For example the organ related to the sense of touch is the skin. We are able to understand and sense the notion of pain which can be related back to a sense of touch. If the pain is cutaneous (damage caused immediately to the skin e.g. a cut) this would make sense in that pain is an extension of the touch sense as the organ has been damaged so we respond with a feeling of pain. The same cannot be said, however, for somatic pain (within the body) the skin stops after 3 layers, the organ ends, so how then do we feel the sense of stomach pain or heart burn? Does this prove that pain is a sense in its own right?
Senses are subjective. What tastes one way to one person may taste vastly different to someone else. In terms of pain, we go through life experiences that can allow some people to build up a higher pain tolerance meaning that for these people, that experience is less hurtful or damaging than it is to others.
To consider this idea in relation to design it is important to remember that within a target audience, whilst they may all fit into a similar bracket in terms of the product or service the design is being used for, within that group every individual will use their senses differently and the experiences they have endured will result in different feelings or actions towards the design. Therefore, as designers we must aim to be more aware of how the senses can form interactions with a design and how we can capitalise these experiences in order to create design that can successfully reach both individuals and also a wider audience.