Panel talk: How do materials shape positive experiences?

Partner Programme

22 Sep 2022

Architecture / Landscape, Interiors & Furniture, Materials


80 Clerkenwell Road



Materials have a direct influence on human behaviour; they affect how people think, interact, connect, and feel in space. Ben Channon, Ekkist; James Halliday, Squire & Partners; Eleanor Ratcliffe, University of Surrey; and Roger Tyrrell, University of Portsmouth, discuss this at our LDF panel talk.

The sand between your toes, the whisper of silk on skin, the creak of a wooden floor, the deep cool of stone walls, the handshake of the doorknob; these sensory experiences have an impact upon our mind, our body, the totality of our existence in space. Philosophical materialism would go so far as to suggest that we are nothing more than the aggregate of our perceptions. That mind and consciousness are by-products of our brain chemistry in interaction with our surroundings. Whether this is true or not, we can probably agree that materials are important from a psychological perspective, and that a deep understanding and appreciation of materials is essential to good design. During London Design Festival we will be hosting a panel discussion based on the question, “How do materials shape positive experiences?” Our panellists are luminaries from the worlds of design and psychology and will certainly provide a lively and entertaining conversation. The panel: Dr Eleanor Ratcliffe is a Lecturer in Environmental Psychology at University of Surrey. Over the last decade she has conducted research and teaching on the effects of the environment, and particularly nature, on psychological wellbeing. Her work in this area includes study of soundscapes, virtual reality, and creativity, as well as place attachment and place memory. She is a Board member of the International Association of People-Environment Studies (IAPS) and from autumn 2022 will lead Surrey’s MSc programme in Environmental Psychology. James Halliday is an Associate at award-winning architecture and design practice Squire & Partners. James specialises in workspace and residential design, with recent projects including Ministry of Sound’s first coworking members’ club The Ministry; a new coworking space in the derelict, listed Haggerston Baths; an office refurbishment at 78 St James’s; and The Building Society – a new headquarters for Elliott Wood engineers. Ben Channon is an architect, author, TEDx speaker and mental wellbeing advocate, and is well known in the industry as a thought leader in designing for happiness and wellbeing. He is a Director at wellbeing design consultancy Ekkist, where he helps clients and design teams to create healthier places, and researches how buildings and urban design can impact how we feel. Roger Tyrrell is a principal lecturer in architecture at the University of Portsmouth, School of Architecture, and an adjunct associate professor in architecture at the University of Aalborg in Denmark. He is co-director of the Jørn Utzon Research Network and the director of CHORA, an international consultancy company that reconnects academia with creative practice.