An aesthetics of touch: investigating the language of design relating to form

Vicky Teinaki, Bruce Montgomery, Nick Spencer, Gilbert Cockton

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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How well can designers communicate qualities of touch? This paper presents evidence that they have some capability to do so, much of which appears to have been learned, but at present make limited use of such language. Interviews with graduate designer-makers suggest that they are aware of and value the importance of touch and materiality in their work, but lack a vocabulary to fully relate to their detailed explanations of other aspects such as their intent or selection of materials. We believe that more attention should be paid to the verbal dialogue that happens in the design process, particularly as other researchers show that even making-based learning also has a strong verbal element to it. However, verbal language alone does not appear to be adequate for a comprehensive language of touch. Graduate designers-makers’ descriptive practices combined non-verbal manipulation within verbal accounts. We thus argue that haptic vocabularies do not simply describe material qualities, but rather are situated competences that physically demonstrate the presence of haptic qualities. Such competencies are more important than groups of verbal vocabularies in isolation. Design support for developing and extending haptic competences must take this wide range of considerations into account to comprehensively improve designers’ capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages233
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012
EventDesign and Semantics of Form and Movement (DeSForM) Conference - School of Design, Victoria University of Wellington
Duration: 1 Apr 2012 → …


ConferenceDesign and Semantics of Form and Movement (DeSForM) Conference
Period1/04/12 → …
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