Synesthetic Design

Sound, Color, Space – Synesthetic Design

Speaker: Dr. Michael Haverkamp, Ford Engineering Centre Cologne, Germany


While it usually seems to be self-evident that perception of sound is a simple process, carried out within one modality, the existence of cross sensory perceptual phenomena like color hearing points at the fact that hearing includes visual aspects. In fact, not only during individual synesthetic processes, but even under common perceptual conditions sound refers to multi-sensory attributes. Thus, even a design of sounds related to brand attributes must be based on qualitative references between the senses. As an integral part, knowledge of the visual aspects of auditory perception is essential for creation of sounds which fit into a cross-sensory environment.

In the reality of daily life, even simple events which are heard include cross-modal references. Speech contains semantic and associative attributes as well as various analogies, like cross-sensory features (e.g. brightness, sharpness, volume), spatial distribution and temporal behavior (e.g. motion). The alignment of visual and auditory colors, however, is a challenging, but still important task. Additionally, spatial alignment of auditory, visual and tactile senses is one base for designing of multi-sensory objects and environments – looking at Soundscapes versus Landscapes versus Emotionscapes. The presentation provides an introduction to those various cross-sensory mechanisms and to the concept of Synesthetic design.