September 25, 2014

The Science of Art - WebVisions Chicago 2014

By Sarah Hall

September 25, 2014

The Science of Art - WebVisions Chicago 2014

Like most things, there’s science behind how we perceive creativity and art. Beautiful design activates pleasure receptors in our brain, and, naturally, we respond positively toward that.


An elegant piece of creative, says Sarah Hall, creates a perfect marriage between beautiful design and smart user experience.

“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.”

― Charles Eames, Architect and Designer


Sarah is the founder of Harley & Co., a hybrid agency in New York and L.A..  She says we are at a place where the conversation is shifting away from changing consumer “actions”, which is downstream, to actually affecting the way people process their environment.


Beyond changing behaviors

“The question then becomes how do artists, designers and engineers use this shift to create products that change the way people see and respond to the world around them,“ she says in the description for her WebVisions Chicago session on “The Science of Art.”


The answer is, in part, found in recent discoveries and innovations from the fields of neuroscience, biochemistry and physics. It’s also being derived from emerging insights gained from the reams of data being collected through wearables and other “intelligent” devices that can paint a personalized, number driven portrait of why we do what we do.


Take for example, the ‘hacking the memory encoding process,’ a topic Sarah will explore in her session.

It essentially goes like this: your brain is constantly gathering information. The more attention any particular thing is able to get from you, the more your neurons fire – creating the process of implanting something into your memory. The way this information is stored has a tremendous effect on where, when and how you will recall it.


New brain imaging techniques are helping us to gain unique insight into what the brain reacts to and how it reacts. This calls into question things like the importance brands place on “awareness” because ultimately it’s not about whether or not you know about something – it’s the associations you make around it which are defined by the way you encode it.


In addition to hacking memory encoding, Sarah will explore other cognitive and behavioral techniques that connect human biology and cognition to design and creativity, such as GRIT, pattern recognition, and the Availability Heuristic.

Because, don’t we all want to make an impact with our work?