Camilla Groth

Aalto University

Haptic Experiences

Only recently have we begun to understand how we rely on our haptic system in the way we make sense of the world. Many creative professionals working with their hands rely on this type of bodily knowing on a daily basis. I find it important to look closer at this from a practitioner’s point of view. As my background is in ceramics and glass design, the research is mainly situated in the context of material based arts and crafts.

Tactile cognition and embodiment. While visual and auditory cognition have been investigated extensively, there is relatively little research about tactile cognition. In recent years, the embodied dimension and its reflection in designers’ and artisans’ work have gained increasing attention.Expert practitioners have handled material countless times; thus, without conscious effort, they can imagine and predict the perceptual consequences of their actions.

Practice-led research. It is in the interest of design research to get access to and articulate the embodied knowledge of skilled practitioners. The embodiment of skills and materials is evident in professionals, and the theoretical and conceptual work on the issue of embodiment is sophisticated but there is still little empirical research applying the work to documented design practices. The use of practice-led research methods have become increasingly common among practitioners in art, craft and design who wish to document, reflect and research on their own practice.

Research methods. I am using the Qualitative Case Study Methodology. By choosing the multiple case study type within the qualitative case study methodology, I am able to compare the research findings from multiple case studies conducted in different contexts. The research questions stay the same but are studied from different angles. Three Case studies form the basis of my study. The first case involves ethnographic and participatory elements. The second case involves introspection in the form of an auto ethnographic or practice led study. I have used an event sampling method called Contextual Activity Sample System (CASS)that allowed me to collect also quantitative data. Diaries, video and audio recordings make up the main part of my data so far. In parts of the research brain imaging methods, such as EEG, will be used. The third study is examining the role of the body in students’ material exploration process.

Contribution. Through industrialization tactility is lost in the making process, this may affect the tactile qualities in the user experience of these products. Tactile qualities lie in the essence both in the making process and in the user experience. By studying design practice through the eyes of the practitioner with a special emphasis on tactility we illuminate the problem from the point of view of embodiment.