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Commercial Interior design for the senses office fitout office interior design manchester

Commercial Interior Design for the Senses

Sensory design is a transformative approach used in commercial interior design. It’s a strategy that extends beyond just aesthetics, creating spaces that are not only visually compelling but also rich in texture, sound and scent. This holistic approach acknowledges the impact our surroundings have on our emotions, behaviour, and well-being, enabling interior designers to forge spaces that encourage positive interactions, enhance mood, and boost productivity—key outcomes for commercial venues seeking to attract and retain customers or to improve workplace performance.

If observant to it, when entering a space where sensory design principles have been applied, you will notice how each detail, from the tactile range of materials to the ambient lighting, collaborates to set a distinct atmosphere. This encourages longer stays and fosters a desire to return. As Jolie Studios, a leader in commercial interior design, aptly puts it: designing for the senses is about crafting an experience that appeals to all aspects of human perception. It’s this all-encompassing approach that distinguishes a remarkable space from an ordinary one, making sensory design an indispensable element in contemporary commercial interiors and a potent tool for creating experiences that deeply resonate with individuals.


Commercial Interior design for the senses office fitout office interior design manchester 5 senses picture 

Sensory Psychology: The Brain’s Response to Designed Environments

Sensory psychology plays a crucial role in commercial interior design, offering insights into how our brains interpret the sensory stimuli around us. It’s a field that offers deep insights into how design influences human behaviour and psychological well-being. In any commercial space, the choices made in design—from the colours and lighting to the textures of furniture—provoke distinct responses in the brain, shaping our experience of the environment.

Natural light, for example, is known to enhance mood and productivity, while the use of specific colours can induce feelings of relaxation or excitement. These elements, when applied with an understanding of their psychological impact, can positively influence the mood and behaviours of the people who visit the space.

Sensory-rich environments can also create strong lasting impressions, making a space more memorable and inviting for return visits. This is especially valuable for brands aiming to establish a strong and enduring connection with their audience. Think about the recognisable smell of Subway or the visual look of an Apple store.

Sensory design is also vital in accommodating neurodiversity. Thoughtful acoustics and lighting can make a space more comfortable for individuals sensitive to overstimulation, ensuring that commercial environments are inclusive and welcoming to all. By taking into account the sensory impact of each design element, commercial interior designers have the power to craft spaces that not only look aesthetically pleasing but also resonate with people on a deeper psychological level, enhancing the human experience in profound ways.

Design Techniques for the Senses

As outlined, within commercial interior design, sensory engagement is key to creating an environment that resonates with visitors. Sensory design techniques are essential in achieving this, as they involve more than just visual appeal. These techniques aim to create a holistic experience that stimulates all the senses.

The sense of touch can be activated through the use of various materials and textures, inviting visitors to engage with the space. Colour is a powerful element in sensory design, capable of altering perception and mood. Lighting is equally important, with the ability to highlight features, create ambiance, and influence circadian rhythms.

Sound and acoustics play a significant role in the overall experience of a space. Careful consideration of these elements ensures that the environment is audibly pleasing. Scent, though subtle, can have a profound impact on the atmosphere of a space, evoking memories and emotions.

In settings where food is present, the design can enhance the taste experience, contributing to the sensory journey. By thoughtfully integrating these elements, designers can create spaces that offer a full sensory experience, making every visit memorable and engaging for visitors.


Visit from Chantel from Sensed – Commercial Aroma Specialists

Commercial Interior Design Case Study: Unit One

Unit One, is a café recently designed for our client Student Union for Manchester Metropolitan University. This project, led by our interior designer Hannah Fleming, showcases a thoughtful approach to creating environments that cater to the senses.

The café’s auditory landscape is shaped by acoustic lighting and cladding, which work in unison to absorb and soften the ambient noise, ensuring that the buzz of conversation and the clatter of cutlery do not overwhelm. The soft furnishings scattered throughout the space also dampen sound.

Visually, the space includes a selection of carefully chosen colours and lighting. The exposed ceiling is covered with an array of fixable, dimmable lighting fittings that transition the café from day to light. The colour scheme is a deliberate selection of MMU’s vibrant yellow, complemented by bold blues and energizing oranges, creating a mood boosting atmosphere.

The café’s walls feature a bee mural, a nod to Manchester’s industrious spirit, adding a dynamic splash of colour that draws the eye without dominating the space.

No added aroma is required within the design. The scent of ground coffee and freshly baked pastries is a testament to the quality of the refreshments on offer, making any artificial enhancement unnecessary.

The tactile aspect is not overlooked, with a variety of finishes inviting touch. The bar’s reclaimed wood, the gloss of the tile splashbacks, the smooth ply of the chairs, the sturdy metal of the table legs, and the plush velvet of the banquette upholstery—all contribute to a rich tapestry of textures.


Unit One is a sensory journey, designed to provide a haven where every element contributes to a cohesive and harmonious experience.

Unit One serves as a testament to the power of sensory design, where every detail is curated to engage and harmonise with our innate responses to the environment. From the acoustic ambiance that envelops us to the visual cues that guide our mood, this approach to design goes above and beyond the conventional aesthetical approach to interior design.

You can also check out our insights (News & Insights | Truline ( for more tips and insights on office fit out trends, best practices and case studies.

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