Emotional Change Management – A Post Pandemic Way Forward – Part III , by Seema Lele

Seema Lele

Seema Lele

Part – III – Enable – If you can’t feel it, you won’t remember it.

Enable - If you can't feel it, you won't remember it.

Share Post:

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

If you don’t feel it, you won’t remember it  Bob Dickman, The Elements of Persuasion.

Placemaking content strategy

To make design an experience is to marry the storytelling with its environment. The focus is never one-dimensional but multi-faceted, addressing the look, feel, function, and utility for an emotional connection. An overarching, immersive spatial experience is the by-product of a carefully crafted narrative. Content-led design strategy acts as a common thread between the invisible and the visible.

The Content

What you see, read, comprehend makes you feel in a certain way. It affects your thoughts which generate emotions. The content can influence your mind, and thereby stimulate a response. Design elements empower the designer to orchestrate the desired experience. Careful concatenation of each frame calibrates a story-like space styling. Every small detail counts, from the vase to the veneer. Content is the king — it rules in the truest sense of the space.

The Storytelling

The word storytelling is thrown around commonly yet consciously in the design world. Designers use storytelling to get insight into space users, build empathy, and reach them emotionally. They create personas to represent target users and add synergy to stories that reflect their user journeys and problems. Crafting stories, designers can better understand what users want from a solution. Stories do not just access a small part of our brains. The best stories can tap into all areas of our brains; even the old brain, which relies on providing instinctive decisions. To create a compelling experience, one must strike the perfect chord with the user. Nothing less, nothing more…just the right one. To achieve this, we need to create an emotional narrative, which is altogether different from a literal narrative. An emotional narrative is just about tone, it is not about story arch. Copy and visuals can all connect to convey and elicit positive emotion throughout an experience. They are indispensable to the information architecture of the space, slowly building through content. Each piece of content you choose defines your story and controls the narrative around the space and its users. You have a responsibility towards the space user to tell your story in a way that is consistent, realistic, and responsible. To do that, a content strategy should be in place at the start of the process.

Emotional Change Management – A Post Pandemic Way Forward – Part III , by Seema Lele 1

To silence everything else in your mind and attain the state-of-flow for higher productivity,

What is that one-word-association for your workspace design?

enable /ɪˈneɪb(ə)l,ɛˈneɪb(ə)l/

make (something) possible

The experience is a direct result of the design and not only impacts how things operate, but also the fundamental processes that enable a certain experience. Purposeful content interventions are designed to delight and create moments of serendipity. In the last part of the essay, we established present-day-fact for design. As the intention behind the design has changed, the capabilities and talent involved in the design process have also evolved. They are no longer limited to a purely mechanical and functional approach but include an experiential and human-centric approach created by a pool of specialists that center their capabilities on human behaviour understanding, situation analysis, and from there to design and experience. Experiential design goes beyond the meager aesthetics. It becomes about encapsulating a story and being able to recreate the same touchpoints at every interaction between the space and its user.

The renowned philosopher Aristotle wrote widely on storytelling. His formula is can be broken down into a series of checklist for what your design story should contain.

  • Plot – What are space users trying to accomplish or overcome?
  • Character – Get an insight on who are the users: not just demographically, but what are their true needs?
  • Theme – How can you establish a trustworthy presence? How will you serve the purpose of the space, personal & professional?
  • Dialogue – What will your design say to users and how? Does a formal/informal tone match their expectations? How much text is appropriate? Is it text or something else?
  • Melody – How will the overall design pattern appear amicable and predictable to users, moving them emotionally?
  • Décor – How will you present the visual graphics to match the sensor settings of the users?
  • Spectacle – How can you make your design an accomplice in the user experience such that they will remember it?

Best explained with a design example.

Uber takes O+A’s concept of design as a story to another level. The design needed to translate the simplified experience of getting around a city with an Uber. It was a story of a start-up in San Francisco with a new idea of urban transport based on a shared economy. A transformative global presence in 200 cities and in 5 years had to be told on an epic scale. This service of one-to-one connection had to be told with a fine balance of intimacy, having an undertone of safety, and a luxury ride, unleashing the freedom of time and money. After identifying the experience O+A decided to ask the space users, the Uber employees, about the work environment they would like to be in. The design program kicks in much later. What begins even before the designers get to the drawing board, is the search of that one-word-association for the content of the design. “You have to find ways to find that center, to find balance, to find sanity…” briefs Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick to the team. One word that breaks down the beauty and complexity of the user experience and Uber’s mission is Independence. It then became the-one unique aspect in every detail of design expression for the Uber HQ. The result is a vast space made up of many interlocking comfort zones, an artful orchestration of communal areas and small enclaves for solo concentration.

Your story narratives are “magic mirrors”—proving fine-tuned empathy and connection with users’ values—where users discover how to make their own happily-ever-after. Ultimately, your design should predict your target users’ actions at every level possible and also enable them.


“We are, as species, addicted to story.

Even when the body goes to sleep,

the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories”.

-Jonathan Gottschall

Author, The StoryTelling Animal


A content-led experience is, by definition, user focused. Content strategy, therefore, is a design function.

– Seema Lele

Architect I Content-led Strategist

A multi-part essay on emotional forces in design – way forward for the change management process.

One Reply to “Emotional Change Management – A Post Pandemic Way Forward – Part III , by Seema Lele”

  1. This a thought provoking narrative that continues to linger as a prolonged afterthought… very well articulated..

Share your comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You May Also Like

Rethinking practice, teaching and new collaborative initiatives - Shikha Doogar, Shridhar Rao, r + d Studio

Rethinking practice, teaching and new collaborative initiatives – Shikha Doogar, Shridhar Rao, r+d studio

r+d studio is led by principal architects Shikha Doogar and Shridhar Rao. The studio is founded on their experiences comprising a stint at Gehry and Partners. r+d studio witnessed opportunities to rethink their practice procedures, involve in teaching virtually and start-up a new city collaborative initiative called Gurgaon Design Collective. The pandemic was handled by r+d studio with a positive outlook, safety and security of the team and nurturing new tech ideas through their new venture RD Labs.

Read More »
Kecherile Veedu, at Kecheri, Thrissur, Kerala, by Finder Studio

Kecherile Veedu, at Kecheri, Thrissur, Kerala, by Finder Studio

Traditional Kerala homes are rich in memories; of the long-forgotten smell of the first rain, the sound of raindrops falling in the courtyard, people sitting and conversing around it, the feeling of the warmth of mud walls and wood,  the coziness of spaces;  one may find him or herself drifting into their nostalgic memories of yesteryears every once in a while. – Finder Studio

Read More »
Persisting with tech for an ever-changing world - Sushant Verma, rat[LAB]

Persisting with tech for an ever-changing world – Sushant Verma, rat[LAB]

rat[LAB] was founded on the technological strength it possessed. The studio has already been functioning as a team of remotely working associates from different time zones, with cloud computing as one of their practice tools. The pandemic experience has shown the team that technology supports their practice to adapt to the surprises that the world can throw at us. Additionally, savings from previous projects has helped the team stay afloat, in any case of fears that they may have encountered.

Read More »
Towards increased flexibility in practice - BanduksmithStudio

Towards increased flexibility in practice – banduksmithstudio

banduksmithstudio, a closely-knit team, experienced the hindrances in their internal and on-site coordination as the significant challenges. Moving swiftly into the virtual space to coordinate and continue work as the lockdowns were enforced, aided in levelling up the studio’s flexibility. The studio believes they adapt to any forthcoming challenges too to flexibly stay in collaboration with fellow practitioners.

Read More »
The Office Next Door, at Vesu, Surat, by The Concept Lab

The Office Next Door, at Vesu, Surat, by The Concept Lab

The office next door is the new project that recently completed is a  real estate office and is made upon a total carpet area of 475 sq. Ft and consists of a reception area followed by a waiting area, 2 meeting cabins and completed by a pantry and a washroom. The client was very precise about the design is very sober yet elegant. The office turned out even better than expectations.A clean white openable panel wall has been constructed to hide the windows giving the reception a subtle look. – The Concept Lab

Read More »
"Glimpse into architecture's skilled workforce and allied industries in India during the pandemic" - AvDC

A glimpse into architecture and its allied industries in India during the pandemic – Suhasini Ayer – Guigan, AvDC

Architect Suhasini Ayer – Guigan , principal of Auroville Design Consultants, Auroville, shared insights on how the industries associated with Architecture practice were already facing a recessive market. The pandemic, hence, was not a fresh disaster to our practice, and perhaps possessed opportunities for youngsters to improve their interpersonal skills. Architect Suhasini also shares insights on how Indian manufacturing is deeply connected with global production cycles, thereby causing a chain of shutdowns to Indian work. Additionally, she also shares the significance of the shifting thought and behaviour patterns of the general Indian working population toward more efficient practices, from being disorganized and spontaneous.

Read More »

Subscribe to Architecture and Design Updates