Jinsop Lee is a Korea-based industrial designer, a former teacher and a speaker. He worked as a design consultant for a few years, endured his time of 2 years in the Korean army and then founded his design firm, Uncle Oswald Is My Hero. Lee gained popularity in 2013 after his TedTalk where he talked about how a multisensory experience can enhance any kind of design. Apart from this, he is known for his out-of-the-box creative and ardent approaches that not only tickles our senses but also solves the design muddles that take a toll. He says that in life, everything is connected to design in one way or another.
TedTalk: Design for All 5 Senses.
In this talk, Jinsop Lee talks about his take on designing with the five senses i.e. sight, smell, taste, sound and touch. We have been taught about these senses since school and various incidents in our lives that tend to activate them. Lee, however, believes that incorporating these five senses can give a superior take on designing products, structures and experiences. Along with this, he explains how these senses often lead towards a better experience and involvement. He initiates the talk by mentioning his university project where the students had to design solar powered clocks.
He further explains how his clock functions, a unique idea that was inspired by and involved the idea of biomimicry. Despite his efforts and a rather remarkable approach, his sunflower clock never got the recognition it deserved. He reached to this realization almost after a decade when he finally compared his project with one of the other students and his design. The reason behind this was the involvement of the senses on a higher level, if not all.
After this realization, he thought of evaluating varied experiences and actions in his life from the point of view of these very five senses. Lee being the keen and deeply curious designer he is, this idea was further carried out by him by following the method whenever he had a memorable experience and recording it on a graph. For this, he shows the audience a video that explains this concept. He later supports this explanation by showing the graph that marks the level of all the 5 senses, on a scale of 1 to 10, to give a general idea of how innovative a particular design or experience is. As previously mentioned, this is done by taking the day to day considerations or acts into picture where each example’s incorporation of the 5 senses is marked. It shows how important it is to address the senses and create a multisensory experience for the user.
For instance, two examples are taken to compare simultaneously and reach to a conclusion. After marking both examples, the act that covers the broader area confirms to be a better and agreeable option than the other. Below is one such example by Jinsop Lee that justifies and explains the theory along with the chart.
Another example below shows the never-ending comparison between films and books where Lee compares one of his favourite childhood stories, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its film adaptation.
This chart enables people who grade any kind of activity and decide on what conclusion to occur. But mainly, it helps designers and architects to criticize their own designs and bring a change that involves all the five senses in order to further amplify user interaction and participation. As a matter of fact, he motivated all his students to follow this method, as well.
Such experiments can be performed and used to mark the graph to diagnose how different senses respond individually and as a whole. It is acceptable that this ‘Five Senses Theory’ may have certain limitations. However, it has been proven to be of utmost importance in terms of a design block or to deliver beneficial solutions that engage the user and his mind. This can be proved by taking any iconic project, product, furniture piece or design into consideration that may have been declared as one revolutionary in the past. And despite its limitations, the ‘Five Senses Theory’ is remarkably a wise technique to re-evaluate products and how they can be designed for a multi-sensory experience.
Lee later shows his studies about how significant a role the senses play, both in terms of experiences and products as well. This can also be carried out by making minor tweaks to the design rather than completely designing them from scratch. He further addresses how designers, in the past, have primarily focused on only two of the five senses, which are sight and touch. Hence, tweaks that involve the other senses of sound, smell and taste can drastically improve the graph and make the design a successful one. He proves this towards the end of the talk in jest.