Stay in Touch
A series of objects which explicit the importance of touch. Through the interacting by touch with an artefact, itâ€™s owner develops an understanding and their own haptic language and meaning. I want people to develop their own unique relationship with objects over time, making it a personal artefact to which they have a speciďŹ c physical and emotional attachments.
I play with pebbles to calm myself. Theyâ€™re little things that no one else appreciates. Kimberly, 20
Stay in Touch
Touch is a universal experience. Everyone does it constantly each day from a hug with a loved one to turning the paper pages you are reading now. Stay in Touch is a series of visually ambiguous, neutral objects that allow each individual to appropriate each one with specific, personal emotional attachment. Like with people, the owner of these personal artefacts will create memories through physical interaction with them when experiencing different emotions. With time and touch these objects take on the characteristics of their owner. Through an initial explorative relationship with the objects, I hope to develop a somatic understanding through touching the objects, allowing each person to develop a haptic language with their objects. They become meaningful artefacts this way, that capture moments and represent memories of times, people, places and emotional experiences. Each object becomes intrinsic to itâ€™s owner, which could vary from person to person depending on how they interpret touch. Each object is designed within one of the 8 emotions of joy, trust, sadness, fear, disgust, suprise, anger and anticipation and set within a narrative of someone in a long-distance relationship. Here touch between people is extracted allowing a more amplified meaning in the objects, in a narrative of anecdotal moments from user research.
What is Stay In Touch?
The objects are both abstaract and figurative in that they are prescribed towards one of the 8 emotions, but as emotions are so subjective people will give different meanings or interpret different resemblance in the objects. Whereas one person feels that an object surrogates someone holding her hand, another person feels no comfort from itâ€™s material value, which is something they find industrious. In this way it is the owners of these figurative objects that give them their abstract meaning.
Each of the objects is designed within one of the 8 emotions in Plutchikâ€™s chart, which groups emotions under the headings of joy, trust, sadness, fear, disgust, surprise, anger and anticipation. As a set of objects I wanted them to be relatively anonymous, all neutral coloured to avoid any immediate visual association and encourage the meaning they carry through touch specifically through a variation of textures, forms and material qualities. The tactile characteristics of each object is specifically related to strong user research, where people were blindfolded and asked how a series of varying objects made them feel and what emotion they could represent. For the purposes of communication of the project, an emotion was characterised with 8 according moments in a narrative, for which each object was designed based on responses
to the objects people touched in the blindfold test. Due to some variations in responses, often opposing emotions were given to the same objects, shows that perception of touch is a personal and individual appreciation and in reality these objects could be approriated with a different emotional attachment from person to person, developing their own specific relationships with each artefact in the set.
I’ve been in a long distance relationship for a while now. I study away and my boyfriend has always been at home, so I try to come back for a day or two every couple of weeks. We’re both happy enough with the relationship being like that but it changed for me when he went to America on an exchange. It was the first time that he was the one causing the distance in the relationship, and it wasn’t a distance that either of us could travel to see one another. I think I find it harder than he does because he already knows what it feels like when I’ve been away from him. I understand the importance that an object can have. I keeps things that remind me of times spent together or that my boyfriend has given to me that I have emotional attachment to. Things that no one else could appreciate but me. There’s some little hand made pebbles that I’ve got, which I’ll roll around in my hands to make me feel calm. Through using them in this way I get a real emotion with things that have no meaning to any other person. These objects help take some of the feelings of being apart and when I miss being able to touch one another I can pick them up and play with them. I have different things about different memories or experiences that I can have again each time I hold them.
Each of these moments form a narrative for the objects to live in. They are all anecdotal, direct to people in long-distance relationships that I spoke to. In this instance, each moment involves the notion of the other partner in the relationship, with the objects becoming emotional tools either in response to an emotional need of the owner though the absence of the other, or a representation of the absent touch they seek. From speaking to people in long distance relationships, it became apparent that each of the people could think of definite positives, so within the narrative. some of the objects are a celebration of that fact, whereas some are designed for the more negative connotations of being apart. Each person will seek their artefact, making a decision on which one through experience of the objects and emotional attachment giving them the understanding of which one they need. Over time the objects become personal artefacts though developing specific ways to touch them, wearing characteristically or simply taking on body heat when held, making each one individual. As a long-distance relationship is merely a context and a narrative to tell the story of how these objects become personal to individuals, I focussed on only one person for clarity, and not to present it as design for within a long-distance relationship primarily.
How Objects Become A
anticipation Content on couch with a film
Waiting to meet up again
anger Holding hands walking in the street
Frustrated after being in contact
disgust Anxious of missing a “date”
The guilt of missing the date
surprise Feeling glamorous for the date
Missing things they did together
Each of these moments gives Jess’s objects even more meaning as personal artefacts. The moment of watching the film on the couch becomes an experience in the object. She knows how each object can make her feel and uses them for this. The moment of missing him and touching her relative artefact becomes a meaningful memory that she can always have through it, developing a personal relationship with each one. The objects become artefacts through personal signs of wear through material qualities and the specific interaction she has found for each. The artefact she uses for anxiety has been rubbed and the leather has worn in a very unique pattern which she has touched into it, allowing her to see the relationship develop. As she tugs at her frustration outlet, she wears down the rope and can evaluate her emotions over time through it. To her, some objects can even resemble a touch she seeks from him, like the artefact she uses as a symbol of holding hands, and she has come to understand that it warms to her own body and she becomes in sync with the artefact making it very much personally ‘hers’.
Jessâ€™ Object Relationsh
Jess has gotten to know her artefacts, in the same way as any other relationship by getting to know them, gaining an understanding of them and eventually an emotional sharing. Through her daily life she seeks her artefacts at particular times. She understands the emotional value she requires from each one through her experiences shared in them. Through a period of time of being away from familiar and natural touch, this relationship grows. “I was watching a film alone, relaxing on the couch and this is something that we would normally always do together. I realisd these kind of small things can go unnoticed and the importance of the kind of comfortable touch becomes apparent. By using an object which makes me happy, conent and warm I can still have this experience through touch with the joy artefact. The bench nearby my
ﬂat where I would often meet my boyfriend, became a bit of a sad moment for me because I couldn’t share being there with someone. The artefact I seek for sadness is an outlet for it, which I find aleviates the feeling. It’s soft and playful and it lightens me up, keeps me occupied while I just contemplate how I feel. On the same day I’d arranged a ‘date’ with my boyfriend, which I got worried I’d have to miss because I’m really busy with coursework right now. One of my artefacts is good in times like this for stress or anxiety relief. It holds physical memories of times I’ve used it by wearing down with time and how I touch it. I like to squeeze it in my hand and run my fingers over the bumps to take my mind off of it. After missing the date I felt quite guilty because we haven’t spoken in a few days. One of my artefacts is heavy, cold and sharp
when I touch it. I use this as a bit of self punishment. I don’t enjoy touching it, but it relieves the guilt and I found myself rolling it in my palm before I went to sleep, The gentle pain almost soothes how bad I feel. As the week passes I got happier knowing we had another date night arranged and when I was walking down the street I missed simply holding hands. My artefact for this has been adopted as a surrogate as it is soft, fits into my hand and takes on the warmth of my own body til it feels like it’s not there anymore. It makes me feel safe in a way. For a date I always like to make an effort and like to keep up that good feeling of esteem and glamour and use my luxury artefact. It feels lovely over my skin as it’s smooth and silky and I run my fingers through it for a sensual feeling. As always, then comes the post-date frustration almost like I wish I’d
never had the contact as it highlights the absence. Over time with this, I’ve found myrself taking that out on the artefact which I can tug and throw tension into out of my own body. It’s rough and hard textured parts are strangely rewarding for this feeling and makes me level off after touching this one. Finally we got to see one another for a while, we met at the same bench, but this time I was so excitement and happy, I could hardly keep still. I brought the artefact that I know will interact with this emotion and keep the good feeling whilst calming down a bit. I rub the wooden pebble shapes between my hands, they’re warm and smooth and feel good at the same time giving something to play with in the last few moments of waiting.”
Jessâ€™ Life with her Arte
he objects for yourself
Craig Howie Product Design 2012