The designed experience: what works and why we are in thrall

In a working world of greater individual choice, designing a better experience for employees has become an urgent priority. A new book explains how the transformative power of experience can be unleashed

At a time when many employees are being given more choice and autonomy over how they work, the design of experience is rising fast up the business agenda. A new book aims to shed new light on the subject by showing how to create captivating experiences and provide a blueprint for change.

Co-authored by designer Adam Scott of experience masterplanning agency Freestate with writer and strategist Dave Waddell, The Experience Book: For Designers, Thinkers & Makers (Black Dog Press 2022) draws on an eclectic range of cultural sources and practical case studies to demonstrate the power of the designed experience.

In the words of the authors, it ‘challenges the orthodoxy of function-first design, and in doing so reasserts process over product, the unexpected over the expected, and the spectator over the spectacle’. There are many models and strategies in the book that translate readily to the workplace experience.

Feasting on the notion

The first part of The Experience Book is a guidebook that explains what it is about the human mind that feasts so deeply on the notion of the experience, using historical and contemporary examples from architecture, urban planning, fashion, literature, music and other spheres of culture.

The second part is a sourcebook that features examples that demonstrate the power of experience design. Precedents are drawn from the past 35,000 years of transformative experience making; these range from the Palio di Siena bare-back horse race and Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert to a ski slope on the roof of a Danish power plant by BIG architects and the Teeter-Totter wall to enable children to play on the US-Mexico border.

Read an extract from The Experience Book on the lessons of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games in our Innovation Zone here.

Co-author Adam Scott spoke at the WORKTECH London 2022 conference on 23 November.

The Experience Book: For Designers, Thinkers & Makers by Adam Scott and Dave Waddell is published by Black Dog Press, 2022
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