Design for spatial experiences

The edges of physical and digital experiences are blurring. And so should the way we design.

Abi Golestanian
4 min readNov 6, 2019


Illustration by Kris Sauerbrey

The principles of service design thinking can be applied to the physical environment around us. Designing space to accommodate for team culture, rapid organisational change, in conjunction with the power of technology and digital experience, can create an outcome where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Space is the body language of a company

If we are able to track and observe the real use of space, we can meaningfully use data to make informed choices over the future iterations of our environments, to create better spaces and experiences for people.

In order to test a series of hypotheses based on the intended use of space, we believe that in tracking the movement of people we would be able to validate these hypotheses by generating the necessary data and information to make an informed second, third, fourth optimisation of physical space. If we were to take the context of an office space, we would be able to validate whether the resulting human behaviour within a space meets the intended business goals.

How can we configure a space, such as an exhibition, for maximum comprehension of content?

We believe that the time required for physical space design, build and launch is much less than needed for organisational change. If we were to wait for organisational change to happen, the design that was created for physical space might become irrelevant by the time it sees the light of day.

To give ourselves a quick and easy way to test our physical design hypotheses, we used existing technology and open source code to create our own tool. This tool would give us the freedom to use it alongside other design tools, without the cost of using an off-the-shelf product, and personalise it based on the intended goal, respecting individual needs and privacy concerns of our diverse clients and users.

A live prototype to intelligently communicate how people move through a space

By researching and defining KPI’s around what the space should do in reference to the business’s bottom line or outcome goal, we can validate whether the space is achieving those goals based on the generated data, just as you would through a user test and continuous testing of a digital product you have already released.

Before the undertaking of a space redesign, we believe that organisations can ask themselves the following questions help reframe the purpose of that environment.

  • Does your office space reinforce your cultural values, or fight against them?
  • Are you asking people to innovate in their business work while not allowing them to innovate on the design of their desk area?
  • Are you enabling behaviours that further your business goals?
  • Are you giving your employees sufficient time and resources to meet the business outcomes you have defined?

We believe that humans cannot turn innovation on and off. The space must be flexible enough to adapt to change, without a lengthy build over many years, based on design flooded with assumptions of how people behave.

At FJORD, we consider the human experience as a whole, the environment being the vessel, and technology as the enabler, shaped around a core purpose and ideology.

Photography by Bela Lehrnickel from the Berlin Design Week

Thoughts and ideas by Elliot White, prototype developed by Da-Woon Chung— interviewed and written by Abi Golestanian.

For this year’s Berlin Design Week, FJORD Berlin held a series of talks across topics ranging from sustainability, spatial experiences, to diversity and inclusion within design. We also hosted an exhibition that highlighted the power of experimentation to encourage this free-thinking in our daily work.

Check out our other articles from the Berlin Design Week…
Experimentation as a tool for innovative and differential product creation
Viva la vulva 2.0
The plights and joys in the transition towards a more sustainable workplace and culture
How to design for unconsciously biased data



Abi Golestanian

A visual designer, thinker and dreamer, currently residing in Berlin and working at the Design and Innovation Consultancy FJORD