affective design

Exploring Emotional Design

An Interview with Rollout Custom Wallpaper – Pt.2

In Part 1 of this interview, I spoke with Rollout co-founders Anita Modha and Johnathan Nodrick about creating emotional experiences with their custom wallcoverings. In Part 2 of this interview, we talk more about the emotional experience of Rollout’s work.

TvG: How would you characterize the emotional experience of people who get to be in a room that has been covered with one of your designs?

ROLLOUT: The emotional experience of our designs is often almost overwhelming. We get emails from our clients who are so happy because the wallpaper was inline with their brand experience. And then we get calls from people that have no personal connection to the space, but have been there and were so deeply affected by the wallpaper that they just had to let us know.

There’s something powerful that happens when you take a tiny illustration or photograph from a computer screen, repeat it, then blow it up larger than life. We spend our lives looking at images on little screens, so to see big, beautiful images all around you; it’s both exciting and inspiring!

TvG: Large images do cause increases in the physiological part of emotion. Do you think the work that Rollout wallpapers function on more than one level emotionally?

ROLLOUT: Yes. The ability to put almost anything on wallpaper allows it to be a medium that can illicit emotion (e.g. happiness, passion), provoke thought, educate, market, advertise, brand, convey humor; almost any human emotion can be evoked through design. And blending paper and graphics does just that.

In addition to the initial and immediate visual impact of the spaces we have created, we are giving our clients a one-of-a-kind artwork that they can take pride in, discuss, share, communicate.

More importantly, the work we’re doing has allowed us to give our staff and artists a place to display their daily work. Their work can be enjoyed and they can be fulfilled through the way they make their living. We’re forming lifelong friendships all along the way. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.

TvG: When creating your designs, do you use any research or design techniques that you would say are outside of normal user experience and design research methods?

ROLLOUT: For me it’s more about getting away from the computer and the books completely and getting back to the tactile, back to the actual “feel” of design.

We were asked to quote on a feng shui project, so I spent an evening scanning clothes, fabrics, ribbons… whatever was around so that I could discover, feel, and then produce unique textures and interesting effects. Translating that feeling of touch (which I think is essential to good design) into the digital.

TvG: Who are some of your heroes and why?

ROLLOUT: Gandhi: peaceful and intelligent, caused a movement without ever raising a fist or his voice. Our parents. They have gone to the ends of the earth and back for us, and have never expected anything in return.

TvG: What are you currently reading?

ROLLOUT: Anita: One of my goals in life is to read every Pulitzer Prize winning novel and I just finished The White Tiger and Lion Among Men. I often re-read A Fine Balance and A Suitable Boy. Ok, now it seems like I’m showing off… I’m also reading New Moon by Stephanie Meyer.

Jonathan: Beautiful Losers. The book came from an art exhibit and a movie on street art and culture. It starts with forerunners of the phenomenon like Keith Haring and goes in to the movers and shakers of today like Geoff McFetridge and Shepard Fairey. It is insightful to hear the stories of kids making art from the experiences of the everyday and where they took it.

TvG: What advice do you have for young designers working to incorporate emotional considerations into their design process? What should they be learning and thinking about?

ROLLOUT: Don’t over-think things before getting started. Do something quick to see how it affects you and the people around you. Revise and do it again. Get feedback at every stage. Show your work and ask the smartest people you know from every field for their thoughts.

Don’t be afraid of critique. Learn to listen to your clients and your gut instincts. If you have the skills, can listen and learn, and have good people around you, good things are bound to happen.

For part 1 of this interview see:
An Interview with Rollout Custom Wallpaper – Pt.1

For more interviews on design and emotion, see:
An Interview with Microsoft’s Edie Adams – Pt.1
An Interview with Dr. Bj Fogg – Pt. 1
An Interview with Harry Max – Pt.1

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