Role of 5 senses in product design

Hi everyone!
My name is Varvara Komarova and i’m a product design student in the University of Hertfordshire (3d year)
I would really appreciate if you could help me with my dissertation topic and research. I wanted to write about the influence and role of 5 senses in product design. Do you think this topic is worth writing? Could you advice some resources or examples connected with this question?

Cause i personally think that designers really underestimate the role of our senses while creating their objects. Usually they focus the attention of final consumers only on appearance and sometimes on sound. As nowadays the visual channel is overloaded I think designers should draw their attention on other senses as for instance taste or smell)))) By making these senses work they could create an absolutely unique and new experience for people as well as make their product to stand out on shelves.

What do you think about it?

Thanks for your help in advance!!!

Great first post and great question… Welcome aboard.

You know, I love cars, like many men do. They involve all senses except taste (for now).
Replicate that in any other category and you got yourself a winner.

Could the next apple phone reek of wood and leather, possibly?
(a scent…)


As a role, design builds intrinsic value to objects on a mass level. Visually, we utilize proportion, volume, and composition and the such. Tactically, we add texture, temperature and density. Emotionally, we create narratives, and experiences as intangible objects. I think as you build on these 5 senses, realize that design has, as wells as Art, been building from these foundations since we created the definitions of Art and Design. But I think the latter places a very distinct value on those experiences with monetary/currency value as the derivative of those experiences.

Structure your thesis accordingly and communicate your research simply enough for the masses to understand. See Stephen Hawkings, “A brief History of Time” as a good structure for presentation of this topic. Good luck.

Thanks thanks thanks for your help!!!)))))))
I thought that car industry could probably be a good example of sense of smell in work)))))As far as i know Fiat starting from Bravo model started to implement a slight fragrance of wood inside of a car.))))))
Moreover motorcycle industry can probably be an example of sound implemented into design))))Cause again as i heard there are a kind of competitions in motorcycle circles where people listen to the special sound of motor of their motorcycles and the louder the sound the better)))))

Concerning the emotional bonds and narratives it is incredibly interesting! I even thought about not kind of straightforward connections with senses but quite mediated)))For example, what if to influence on taste through sound or picture))))Thanks to our memory we possibly can even feel the taste just by seeing the pan and hearing the sound of hissing oil)))))))
Furthermore, senses are instruments to influence on our brain!)))))And consequently experiences we get)))))

I don’t know about the Fiat Bravo, but I know for certain, that the
Alfa Models built on that floor pan had holders under the front
passenger seat where little pieces of blotter paper went. These
contained “Alfa new car scent”.

These did not have the awfull vanilla tree odour, but underlined the leather and wood in
the car, even if it didn’t have leather… :wink:

My dealer was shocked when I gave him the order number for replacement plates after
some years, they had forgotten about that item.


That’s amazing!)))))Do you know whether they have a sort of special company scent? I mean is it the same for all Alfa models?
Or each car has its own scent?))
The only thing is that the scent should be universal)) So it shall persuade people to buy the car)))


The role of our senses is a valuable topic that sometimes goes under-utilized in development. A good place to start is the study of Universal Design - it is probably the most comprehensive attempt to bring all possible senses into use. Here’s a link to a presentation we put together a long time ago, it may help get the ball rolling for you;

You’ll notice in that document that our senses are valuable in lots of ways and for lots of user groups.

Yeah, it was the same scent for all Alfa Romeo Models during
that time.

Thanks for your presentation!!!)))Reeeeaally useful!))))Especially things with whirlpool audio cassettes))) Really interesting)))))As well as criterias for tactile and visual aspects!)))))Thanks for your brilliant presentation))))))
I need to think about universal design))))

Cool)) So it was a sort of a part of branding as well))

What’s with all the brackets?)))))))))))))))))))?



I think it’s an evolved minimalistic smiley.

;-) --> :) --> )

Yes)) It’s lots and lots of smileys:)))))

I believe that when Timberland launched their retail stores they developed some kind of outdoors sent that they pumped into the retail space.

I am lucky enough to work with all senses including taste at Mars. Our design team not only designs the packaging and graphics but I getting really involved in the development of new chocolate moulds and even flavors. We influence the look of the moulds but a lot of times our consumer strategy work will influence the size taste and all around eating experience of the chocolate.


have you considered scented packages?


We have looked into it. Artificial scent of chocolate is actually not very pleasant. Also chocolate absorbs any scent around it so you have to manage flavor migration.

I bought a bottle of wine just yesterday that came in a box. The box had a field you could scratch that gave away a chocolate scent. It smelled pretty good. Hadn’t seen that before. The scratching is invisible, so you don’t actually see anything scraping of, like a lottery ticket.
Wine was Rosemount Estate from Australia if you’re curious…

And what kind of scent then? I mean is it was made to kind of make people stay in their store for longer?))))) But probably it is more about interior of the space not the actual Timberland products)))))

Wow!! That sounds amazing! So, does the taste of the chocolate its texture its smell somehow influence the packaging design and graphics? I mean that your design team is involved in the whole process of creating of product in order to make the experience of the final customer kind of full and whole))))) By involving all 5 senses while designing the product you cover all areas of perception and create a sort of harmony in people’s brains and as a result make them buy and buy and buy your product)))))