Sensory branding relates to our spatial experience through our senses, where the coordination of the elements of a certain space maximises the experience, which usually would make the customers wanting to repeat the visit. Our senses could maximise our memory of a certain space, often a smell could ignite a memory or feeling buried deep inside of us we thought we had forgotten about.
A case study about Habitat, a store selling furniture and household goods talks about the sensory orchestration and spatial experiences of the stores as well as the objects bought from the store itself. A few of the concepts the case study referred to were: taste, bodily dispositions, objects, ‘energy’, feelings, patterns of feelings, ‘democratic feelings’, and. historical change.
The novelist Angela Carter writes in her article for the magazine New Society that the purchasers tend to “live with their furniture, not alongside it”(Angela Carter, 1976) , which was an update on how people of the previous generations treated furniture. The store Habitat opened the year 1964, where previously, people had to book to view furniture whereas Habitat had the experience of informality, where people could come in, feel and handle the furniture or objects displayed.
Angela Carter uses the term sensorial orchestration to describe Habitat’s store as a whole. Although Habitats merchandise is fashionably basic and could be found in a number of boutique shops, the store integrates different sensorial elements, like smells and sounds or experiences like cooking, living, parenting, socialising, inhabiting, and so on to draw their customers attention in order to have them wanting to come back and experience the store all over again.
The case study states many ideas about historical change in relation to the store itself and the people in general throughout the generations, The historian Raphael Samuel describes the change of “the new middle class” as ” outward-looking rather than inward-looking. They have opened up their homes to visitors, and exposed them to the public gaze. They have removed the net curtains from their windows, and taken down the shutters from their shops. They work in open-plan offices and establishments, with plate-glass windows and see through partitions and doors. In their houses they make a fetish of light and space, replacing rooms with open-access living areas and exposing the dark corners to view. They turn servants’ attics into penthouses and make basements into garden flats. Back yards blossom out as patios; kitchens are aestheticised; even the lavatory is turned into a miniature folly. ” ( Raphael Samuel, 1982)
Feeling a space, or in other terms sensory branding completely changes the experience and outlook a visitor or customer could have about the place. It resides in our memory and we are always reminded of the experience when our senses relate a certain object, smell or sound to the experience we previously had. Our senses are strongly connected to our memory, therefore its likely for us to recall a visit to a store like Habitat.
1. Angela Carter, ‘What the Hell – It’s Home!’ in Shaking
a Leg: Collected Journalism and Writings, Vintage, London, 2013, p205. Originally published in New Society, 13 May 1976. Henceforth What the Hell.
2- Raphael Samuel, ‘The SDP and
the New Middle Classes’, New Society, 22 April 1982, reprinted in Island Stories: Unravelling Britain (Theatres of Memory, Volume II), Verso, London 1998, p258. Henceforth The SDP.