Jinsop Lee: Design for all 5 senses
February 27, 2013
Good design looks great, yes -- but why shouldn't it also feel great, smell great and sound great? Designer Jinsop Lee (a TED Talent Search winner) shares his theory of 5-sense design, with a handy graph and a few examples. His hope: to inspire you to notice great multisensory experiences.Jinsop Lee
- Multi-sense designer
Jinsop Lee is an industrial designer who believes that great design appeals to all five senses. Full bio
Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
In an age of global strife and climate change,
I'm here to answer the all important question:
Why is sex so damn good?
If you're laughing, you know what I mean.
Now, before we get to that answer,
let me tell you about Chris Hosmer.
Chris is a great friend of mine from my university days,
but secretly, I hate him.
Here's why. Back in university, we had a quick project
to design some solar-powered clocks.
Here's my clock.
It uses something called the dwarf sunflower,
which grows to about 12 inches in height.
Now, as you know, sunflowers
track the sun during the course of the day.
So in the morning, you see which direction the sunflower is facing,
and you mark it on the blank area in the base.
At noon, you mark the changed position of the sunflower,
and in the evening again, and that's your clock.
Now, I know my clock doesn't tell you the exact time,
but it does give you a general idea using a flower.
So, in my completely unbiased, subjective opinion,
However, here's Chris' clock.
It's five magnifying glasses with a shot glass under each one.
In each shot glass is a different scented oil.
In the morning, the sunlight will shine down
on the first magnifying glass,
focusing a beam of light on the shot glass underneath.
This will warm up the scented oil inside,
and a particular smell will be emitted.
A couple of hours later, the sun will shine
on the next magnifying glass, and a different smell will be emitted.
So during the course of the day, five different smells
are dispersed throughout that environment.
Anyone living in that house can tell the time
just by the smell.
You can see why I hate Chris.
I thought my idea was pretty good,
but his idea is genius,
and at the time, I knew his idea was better than mine,
but I just couldn't explain why.
One thing you have to know about me is I hate to lose.
This problem's been bugging me for well over a decade.
All right, let's get back to the question of why sex is so good.
Many years after the solar powered clocks project,
a young lady I knew suggested maybe sex is so good
because of the five senses.
And when she said this, I had an epiphany.
So I decided to evaluate different experiences I had in my life
from the point of view of the five senses.
To do this, I devised something called the five senses graph.
Along the y-axis, you have a scale from zero to 10,
and along the x-axis, you have, of course, the five senses.
Anytime I had a memorable experience in my life,
I would record it on this graph like a five senses diary.
Here's a quick video to show you how it works.
(Video) Jinsop Lee: Hey, my name's Jinsop,
and today, I'm going to show you what riding motorbikes
is like from the point of view of the five senses. Hey!
Bike designer: This is [unclear], custom bike designer.
JL: And that's how the five senses graph works.
Now, for a period of three years, I gathered data,
not just me but also some of my friends,
and I used to teach in university, so I forced my --
I mean, I asked my students to do this as well.
So here are some other results.
The first is for instant noodles.
Now obviously, taste and smell are quite high,
but notice sound is at three.
Many people told me a big part
of the noodle-eating experience is the slurping noise.
You know. (Slurps)
Needless to say, I no longer dine with these people.
Okay, next, clubbing.
Okay, here what I found interesting was
that taste is at four, and many respondents told me
it's because of the taste of drinks,
but also, in some cases, kissing is a big part of the clubbing experience.
These people I still do hang out with.
All right, and smoking.
Here I found touch is at [six], and one of the reasons
is that smokers told me the sensation of holding a cigarette
and bringing it up to your lips is a big part of the smoking experience,
which shows, it's kind of scary to think
how well cigarettes are designed by the manufacturers.
Okay. Now, what would the perfect experience
look like on the five senses graph?
It would, of course, be a horizontal line along the top.
Now you can see, not even as intense an experience
as riding a motorbike comes close.
In fact, in the years that I gathered data,
only one experience came close to being the perfect one.
That is, of course, sex. Great sex.
Respondents said that great sex
hits all of the five senses at an extreme level.
Here I'll quote one of my students who said,
"Sex is so good, it's good even when it's bad."
So the five senses theory does help explain
why sex is so good.
Now in the middle of all this five senses work,
I suddenly remembered the solar-powered clocks project
from my youth.
And I realized this theory also explains why Chris' clock
is so much better than mine.
You see, my clock only focuses on sight,
and a little bit of touch.
Here's Chris' clock.
It's the first clock ever that uses smell to tell the time.
In fact, in terms of the five senses,
Chris' clock is a revolution.
And that's what this theory taught me about my field.
You see, up till now, us designers,
we've mainly focused on making things look very pretty,
and a little bit of touch,
which means we've ignored the other three senses.
Chris' clock shows us that even raising just one
of those other senses can make for a brilliant product.
So what if we started using the five senses theory
in all of our designs?
Here's three quick ideas I came up with.
This is an iron, you know, for your clothes,
to which I added a spraying mechanism,
so you fill up the vial with your favorite scent,
and your clothes will smell nicer,
but hopefully it should also make
the ironing experience more enjoyable.
We could call this "the perfumator."
All right, next.
So I brush my teeth twice a day,
and what if we had a toothbrush
that tastes like candy,
and when the taste of candy ran out,
you'd know it's time to change your toothbrush?
Finally, I have a thing for the keys on a flute or a clarinet.
It's not just the way they look, but I love the way they feel
when you press down on them.
Now, I don't play the flute or the clarinet,
so I decided to combine these keys with an instrument I do play:
the television remote control.
Now, when we look at these three ideas together,
you'll notice that the five senses theory
doesn't only change the way we use these products
but also the way they look.
So in conclusion, I've found the five senses theory
to be a very useful tool in evaluating
different experiences in my life,
and then taking those best experiences
and hopefully incorporating them into my designs.
Now, I realize the five senses isn't the only thing
that makes life interesting.
There's also the six emotions
and that elusive x-factor.
Maybe that could be the topic of my next talk.
Until then, please have fun
using the five senses in your own lives
and your own designs.
Oh, one last thing before I leave.
Here's the experience you all had while listening
to the TED Talks.
However, it would be better if we could boost up
a couple of the other senses like smell and taste.
And the best way to do that is with
You guys ready?
- Multi-sense designer
Jinsop Lee is an industrial designer who believes that great design appeals to all five senses. Why you should listen
A former professor of design, Jinsop Lee founded the firm Uncle Oswald Is My Hero, which produces clever iPod speakers from old telephone handsets. And we'll let him take it from here:
"My design background began when I was 5 years old. My mother cruelly refused to buy me a Star Wars X-wing fighter, so I built my own from Lego. Yes, I was the traumatized little boy in the corner of the playground holding the multi-coloured Lego X-wing fighter. However, this did teach me an important lesson: You don't have to follow the instructions that come with the box.
As an adult, I started my career as a suit-wearing design consultant, designing stuff and strategies for large companies. I then spent a mandatory two years in the Korean Army without killing anybody. Then I began teaching English, which eventually led to a job as an associate professor of industrial design. Being a professor means you're designing the most important thing of all: students and the type of designers they will later become.
"Now I am working on a series of short videos about industrial design. Each video follows a simple formula: the viewer must learn something new about design while laughing (or snickering) an average of two times per minute. It turns out the second criteria is much harder than the first."
The original video is available on TED.com