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Neuroscience in Design: Exploring the Intersection of Science and Creativity with Kinda Studios

17th May 2024

In the dynamic world of experiential design, the integration of neuroscience represents a unique opportunity where science and creativity can combine to help elevate immersive experiences. 

To dive deeper into this fascinating subject, we sat down with Katherine Templar Lewis from Kinda Studios, a women-led neuroaesthetic studio and lab using neuroscience to prove the power of art on human connection and wellbeing. Working with brands, experience designers, platforms and institutions, Kinda turns neuroscience into felt experiences to deepen their impact on a range of interconnected health measures. 

With a wealth of expertise in crafting immersive environments that resonate with audiences, Katherine offers her insights into how experiential designers can harness the power of neuroscience to enhance their design practices. 

Katherine, can you give us a quick overview of what exactly Neuroaesthetics is?

Sure, so neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, and how they influence behaviour and cognitive processes. It explores the intricate workings of the brain’s neurons and neural circuits to understand how information is processed, emotions are generated, and actions are coordinated. 

Neuroaesthetics, is a new branch of neuroscience that our work centres in, which studies how different elements affect our environment, be it light, sound, art, nature itself, impacts our brain and body.

It delves into the aesthetic underpinnings of emotion, thought and behaviour, providing insights that can inform various fields, including design. At Kinda Studios, we see neuroscience as a valuable tool for understanding human perception and emotion, allowing us to create immersive experiences that resonate deeply with our audience.

Can you give examples of how Neuroaesthetics influences your design decisions?

Neuroaesthetics serves as a toolbox for us at Kinda Studios, providing valuable mechanisms that we can leverage to enhance our design decisions. While neuroscience doesn’t hold all the answers, it offers insights that allow us to tap into the power of creative difference. For instance, we utilise colours and sounds in design that have an affect on our nervous systems, either positive or negative. Understanding how they can evoke specific emotions and drive behavioural responses allows us greater intention in our designs 

By harnessing the power of art and sensory experiences, we create immersive environments that stir emotions and engage visitors on a deeper level. This approach not only elevates the overall design but also enables us to create social impact through values like environmental stewardship through experiential storytelling. Neuroscience empowers us to create meaningful experiences that resonate with people’s feelings and drive positive behaviour change.

How can neuroscience improve the overall quality of immersive experiences? 

Its influence extends beyond sensory stimulation; it facilitates a deeper connection and understanding of our own selves within immersive experiences. By delving into our innate desire for coherence and connection, neuroscience enables us to craft experiences that resonate deeply with visitors. We recognise that while we experience spaces every day, often without conscious control, immersive experiences offer a unique opportunity to intentionally shape those encounters. We see ourselves as privileged to create spaces where visitors can transcend their everyday reality and be transported to other worlds, fostering a profound sense of connection and engagement with impacts that lingers long after the experience ends. 

What advice would you give experiential designers wanting to incorporate neuroscience into their projects?

My advice would be to seize the opportunity to deepen your understanding and leverage this knowledge to elevate your creations. Fortunately, neuroaesthetics is now offering a wealth of resources to learn from and explore. In parallel, technological advancements are ushering in a new era where we can really harness and utilise scientific insights into experiences to deepen their impact. By leveraging this technology with neuroaesthetic knowledge and insights, you’ll be better equipped to deliver immersive experiences that resonate on a profound level.

Now more than ever is an appetite for transdisciplinary collaboration. The work we do is not just to translate but also to connect. Collaborating and exchanging ideas with both fellow designers and scientists can provide valuable perspectives and inspiration for your projects.

One resource that we often recommend is the book “Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us” by Ivy Ross and Susan Magsamen. In this book, Susan Magsamen delves into the fascinating intersection of neuroscience and art, exploring how artistic experiences can profoundly impact our brains and lives. It’s a captivating read that offers valuable insights into the power of creativity and its effects on the brain.

By immersing yourself in resources like this and actively engaging with the neuroaesthetics and studios like ours, you’ll be well-equipped to infuse your experiential designs with a deeper understanding of the human mind and emotion, ultimately creating more impactful and meaningful experiences for your audience.

What challenges have you faced using neuroscience within design? And how did you address these?

Incorporating neuroscience into design presents exciting opportunities for world-building and creating immersive experiences. However, we’ve encountered challenges when certain environments don’t align with neuroscience principles. For instance, hospitals and schools often prioritise functionality over emotional well-being, hindering our ability to create truly immersive experiences.

In hospitals, the focus on efficiency and sterile environments can be at odds with the nurturing and healing aspects that neuroscience suggests are beneficial. Similarly, schools face constraints due to limited space and the need to accommodate large numbers of people, making it difficult to implement neuroscience principles effectively.

External factors like noise pollution from motorways and heavy traffic pose challenges beyond our control. Despite these obstacles, we address them by adapting our designs to work within the constraints of the space. Neuroaesthetics research and studios like Kinda Studios are helping in transforming these spaces for greater positive impact. 

We also have an in situ lab that uses neurophysiological equipment to test and explore the impact of different environments on our brain and body. The more that this work becomes a two way dialogue between science and art the further both fields can grow and the greater the positive impact we can create.

While challenges exist, they can help to fuel creativity and drive to find innovative ways to integrate neuroscience into design, even in less-than-ideal circumstances. By embracing these challenges, designers can continue to push the boundaries of immersive experiences and create meaningful connections with audiences.

What methods do you use to measure the impact of neuroscience within designs?

Yes, we use a variety of methods to measure the impact of neuroscience within our designs. This includes utilising advanced technologies such as brainwave monitoring (EEG), electrocardiography (ECG), and gamma wave analysis to gather quantitative data on neural and physiological responses to our experiences. Additionally, we rely on self-report measures to capture subjective feedback from participants, allowing us to understand their emotional and cognitive reactions.

What do you see as the future of neuroscience driven-design and how do you think it will affect the design/event industry?

The future of neuroscience and neuroaesthetic-driven design holds immense potential to revolutionise the design and event industry. As we continue to embrace science-informed design practices, we’ll see a shift towards creating experiences that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also deeply resonant on a cognitive and emotional level. Neuroscience insights will guide us in crafting environments that prioritise human well-being and connection, with an emphasis on integrating elements of nature to enhance mental and emotional health.

 

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About Imagineerium

A multi award winning experiential agency creating daring and immersive brand experiences that captivate audiences and drive ROI.

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