When Franky Rousell first launched interior design practice Jolie Studio in 2017, she was adamant that everything she incorporated into Jolie’s design schemes should be grounded in science. To achieve this, she met with a series of neuroscientists who specialise in the different senses to bolster her knowledge around colour psychology, gastrophysics and gastronomy, aromatherapy and psychoacoustics.
Focusing on sensory-led interior design, with every project Jolie Studio leads the way in creating spaces that support the diverse range of human needs and conditions.
Here Franky explains more about what sensory-led interior design is..
Can you tell us more about sensory-led design?
A sensory approach to interior design combines materials, colours, fragrances and sounds to imagine each interior and create immersive, multi-sensory experiences in every space. The real beauty of sensory design is that it is both inclusive and socially sustainable and, by addressing multiple senses together, supports the diversity of the human condition. For each of our projects we work with a series of neuroscientists who specialise in the different senses, to bolster our knowledge around colour psychology, gastrophysics and gastronomy, aromatherapy and psychoacoustics.
Why is it important in interiors?
When I founded Jolie I was keen to understand what it is that makes you as a human being, as a user of the space, decide whether you like it or not, whether you think it’s successful, and how what’s going on around you helps form that decision. I quickly came to the conclusion that it was multi-sensory – and usually subliminal – and realised that this was where the true magic of interior design really took place.
For example, colour is intrinsically linked to the psyche, and plays a huge role in helping to define a person’s mood. Different hues and shades can make people feel creative, reduce anxiety, calm or motivate them. When used correctly and striking an optimal balance, colour has an incredible potential to influence how an end user feels and behaves in a space. Similarly with fragrance, which is so often overlooked in interior design, but as the strongest sense it forms a crucial element of our experiential approach to spacemaking.
By activating the olfactory system through scent, a sense of nostalgia, excitement or comfort can be sparked, helping to shape the atmosphere to reflect the intended mood for the space. Sounds can make or break your enjoyment of a space, making it a crucial part of a sensory design ethos. As humans we have an innate ‘fight or flight instinct’, and even while we’re sleeping, our ears are still ‘switched on’.
We know that there are certain cues that can trigger anxiety through sound and naturally want to induce the opposite in everything we design. We want people to come into our spaces and feel energised, excited or even relaxed and reassured.
What are some of the design elements or materials that you work with to achieve a sensory-led interior, and how do you apply these in your projects?
Part of our priority as sensory-led interior designers is to strike the ideal balance between a material’s aesthetics, emotional drivers and sustainability credentials, as it’s not enough for a texture to simply look and feel good.
For example, a piece of cocooning furniture – like the vegan leather club chairs we used at Victoria Riverside, that comes up and around your shoulders – can provide a sense of comfort and reassurance, even in a corporate environment. At Victoria House in Ancoats, Manchester, we opted for wooden flooring in the communal yoga studio, because we know that the sensation of placing your bare feet upon natural wood grain is incredibly grounding and nurturing, and helps to support the overall practice of yoga.
When it comes to sound, we work closely with our clients to establish how they want users to feel and behave in a space, then design a soundscape to elicit those emotions and actions. At Kitten in Deansgate Square, Manchester – which has triple height ceilings that amplify sound within the space – we used lots of textured materiality and soft furnishings to dampen noise levels, and worked with the client to curate an ambient background playlist for times when the DJ wasn’t present.
Your favourite sensory-led project so far and why?
It’s impossible to choose a favourite, because all of our projects are so varied and fun to work on, but the Sports Hall at Manchester’s Deansgate Square development allowed us to utilise many different senses to great success. We drew upon our research of the psychological benefits of colour for sporting activities by choosing colours and lighting to immerse people in a space that feels energising, competitive, but also fun and fresh.
Deep red was utilised as a powerful and competitive colour, invoking energy and strength, and combined with a bright pink contrast to encourage playful behaviour and provide a sense of comfort. These two dominant colours were balanced with natural hues so as to reduce a fear reaction, typically associated with red, including a bold black ceiling and soft beige used in the acoustic panelling.
In the gym, we combined warm oranges and yellows with light pinks; all colours that psychologically spark confidence, energy, productivity and happiness, paired with sustainable wood finishes and dark greys to ground and balance.
We then applied our research into the cultural origins of natural scent to tap into these vital olfactory senses and provide both spiritual and healing benefits. Peppermint was used in the Sports Hall to boost energy and alleviate nervous tension and stress, while in the Pool cedar wood oil was used to reduce anxiety, paired with bergamot to uplift and black tea to add a cultured subtle finish. Crushed lime and mint was used in the Gym to create a fresh, healthy and productive atmosphere.
Jolie is a full-service interior design studio, working in the commercial & hospitality sector. In an age of real-world social disconnect where screens demand our attention and fast-moving trends drive the physical world we inhabit, Jolie Studio focuses on the power of real, emotionally-driven experiences that can be influenced by environment and interior space.
Their research focuses on human behaviour related to sensory experience; collaborating with neuroscientists in each sensory field, Jolie carefully sources and combines materials and fragrances to imagine each interior. As a young team, Jolie bring a unique perspective to the world of interior design, embodying the millennial mindset to create spaces where individuals of all ages and backgrounds thrive.
Acting as interior consultants or principal designers, Jolie collaborate with contractors, architects, suppliers and project managers to deliver from concept to construction.
For more information about Jolie Studio and to see their full portfolio please visit their website here.
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