Emotional Design with Music

Layered landscape

How on earth do you transform a large boomy warehouse space into a sensory interior that’s a calm space to relax and wind down in? A tall order, there are lots of tricks using the senses to help. To start the transform into a peaceful environment the walls were padded and fabric clad to keep the noise down. The lighting was zoned and kept low with pools of brighter light for task areas. The space was divided into different areas with screens that hung from the ceiling. The colours were inky with bright sharp notes added. The textures were layered, glossy and matt, choppy and shaggy, soft and silky.

I asked a musician friend to recommend music that would support a journey through the space and he suggested the Janet Cardiff installation, Forty Part Motet, Spem in Alium nunquam habui composed by Tallis which nailed the effect I was looking for. Sadly the budget didn’t extend to the heights of an artistic installation!

The secular piece was written in the 16th century to celebrate Queen Elizabeth Is’ 40th birthday. Since it’s inception in 2001 it has travelled far and wide, now on at the Great Hall in Winchester. I have wanted to experience it for years, so I was thrilled to be able to go along to listen. It’s an unexpected experience, unique to each listener. Forty audio speakers arranged in a wide circle, each with a seperate voice. The listener is surrounded, enclosed by all the different parts. The piece becomes three-dimensional like a landscape, transforming the space, an intense experience. Powerful and contemplative it showed me how much music can transform the experience of a space.

Layered sky




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