Reflections on Designing Material Experience in Physical and Digital Contexts

  • Bruna Beatriz Petreca
Keywords: Textile experience, Touch, Design research


We are born with no understanding of conventions, but with all our senses. We feel first. Diversity in research related to our everyday experience of products, services, interfaces and environments, as well as the supply of goods and services for the experience is growing and unprecedented. This is the time to exceed the limits of the research, and multidisciplinary dialogues and collaborations are premise. This paper presents an overview of projects that seek to understand and create for the human experience, especially the material experience. Taking my research related to textiles as the starting point, to then analyse further examples of pioneering research in other areas that concern the human experience and intersections with the creative industries, to then conclude the discussion by presenting technological developments and new design possibilities for the experience.


Download data is not yet available.


ATKINSON, D.; ORZECHOWSKI, P.; PETRECA, B.; BIANCHI-BERTHOUZE, N.; WATKINS, P.; BAURLEY, S.; PADILLA, S.; Chantler, M. Tactile perceptions of digital textiles: a design research approach. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2013, pp. 1669-1678, ACM.

ATKINSON, D.; PETRECA, B.; BIANCHI-BERTHOUZE, N.L.; BAURLEY, S.; WATKINS, P. The Tactile Triangle: a design research framework demonstrated through tactile comparisons of textile materials. The Journal of Design Research, 2016.

BANG, A.L. Triad as a means for dialogue about emotional values in textile design. In: 8th European Academy of Design Conference. The Robert Gordon University: Aberdeen, Scotland, 2009.

DEWEY, J. Art as Experience. Penguin Group, 2005 [1934].

DOURISH, P. Where the action is: the foundations of embodied interaction. MIT press, 2004.

ETHERINGTON, D., 2013. Le Laboratoire’s Ophone Is A Smartphone For The Nose That Knows. In: Tech Crunch, 2013. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 04 de Outubro de 2016.

GIACCARDI, E.; KARANA, E. Foundations of Materials Experience: An Approach for HCI. In: Proceedings CHI2015.

HOWES, P.D., WONGSRIRUKSA, S., LAUGHLIN, Z., WITCHEL, H.J. & MIODOWNIK, M., 2014. The perception of materials through oral sensation. PloS one, 9(8).

JORDAN, P.W. The four Pleasures: Understanding User’s holistically. In: Proceedings of applied ergonomics International,(AHFE International), 2008.

KARANA, E., HEKKERT, P. AND KANDACHAR, P., 2008. Material considerations in product design: A survey on crucial material aspects used by product designers. Materials & Design, 29(6), pp. 1081-1089.

KARANA, E., PEDGLEY, O. AND ROGNOLI, V. Eds. Materials Experience: fundamentals of materials and design. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann,2013.

KARANA, E., BARATI, B., ROGNOLI, V., ZEEUW VAN DER LAAN, A., 2015. Material driven design (MDD): A method to design for material experiences. International Journal of Design, 19(2) 2015.

KIRSH, D. Embodied Cognition and the Magical Future of Interaction Design. TOCHI, 2013, 20(1).

MENTIS, H.M., LAAKSOLAHTI, J. & HÖÖK, K., 2014. My Self and You: Tension in bodily sharing of experience. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 21(4), pp. 1-26.

MERLEAU-PONTY, M., 2004. Exploring the world of perception: sensory objects. In: M. Merleau-Ponty and T. Baldwin, 2004. The world of perception. London: Routledge.

McCABE, D. B.; NOWLIS, S. M. The effect of examining actual products or product descriptions on consumer preference. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2003, 13, 431–439.

OBRIST, M.; SEAH, S.A.; SUBRAMANIAN, S. Talking about tactile experiences. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, 2013, pp. 1659-1668.

ORZECHOWSKI, P.M.; ATKINSON, D.; PADILLA, S.; METHVEN, T.S.; BAURLEY, S.; CHANTLER, M. Interactivity to enhance perception: does increased interactivity in mobile visual presentation tools facilitate more accurate rating of textile properties?. In: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services, ACM, 2011, pp. 629-634.

PADILLA, S.; CHANTLER, M. Engaging online with interactive objects. In: DE 2011 – Digital Engagement. Newcastle University, 2011.

PETRECA, B.; BIANCHI-BERTHOUZE, N.; BAURLEY, S.; WATKINS, P.; ATKINSON, D. An embodiment perspective of affective touch behaviour in experiencing digital textiles. In: Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII), IEEE, Humaine Association Conference, 2013, pp. 770-775.

PETRECA, B.; ATKINSON, D.; BIANCHI-BERTHOUZE, N.; FURNISS, D.; BAURLEY, S. The future of textiles sourcing: exploring the potential for digital tools. In: Design & Emotion International Conference, 2014.

PETRECA, B.; BAURLEY, S; BIANCHI-BERTHOUZE, N. How do designers feel textiles? In: Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII), 2015, International Conference on, IEEE, pp. 982-987).

PETRECA, B., BAURLEY, S., BIANCHI-BERTHOUZE, N., TAJADURA-JIMÉNEZ, A., 2016. Investigating nuanced sensory experiences in textiles selection. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing: Adjunct (UbiComp ‘16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 989-994. DOI:

PIQUERAS-FISZMAN, B., LAUGHLIN, Z., MIODOWNIK, M. AND SPENCE, C. 2011. Tasting spoons: Assessing how the material of a spoon affects the taste of the food. Food, Quality and Preference 22(7), 628-637

ROGNOLI, V., 2010. A broad survey on expressive-sensorial characterization of materials for design education. METU Journal of the Faculty of Architecture, 27(2), pp.287-300.

SANDERS, E.B.N.; DANDAVATE, U. Design for experiencing: New tools. In: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Design and Emotion, Overbeeke, CJ, Hekkert, P.(Eds.), Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands, 1999, pp. 87-91.

SCHIFFERSTEIN, H.N.; HEKKERT, P. eds. Product experience. Elsevier, 2008.

SHEETS-JOHNSTONE, M.. The corporeal turn: An interdisciplinary reader. Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2009.

SMITH, K. Sensing Design and Workmanship: The Haptic Skills of Shoppers in Eighteenth-Century London. Journal of Design History, 2012, 25/1, pp.1-10

SOUFFLET, I., CALONNIER, M. & DACREMONT, C. A., 2004. Comparison between industrial experts’ and novices’ haptic perceptual organisation: a tool to identify descriptors of the handle of fabrics. Food Quality and Preference 15 (7):689-699.

SPENCE, C.; GALLACE, A. Multisensory design: reaching out to touch the consumer. Psychology & Marketing, 2011, 28(3): 267–308.

THOMPSON, E. AND VARELA, F.J., 2001. Radical embodiment: neural dynamics and consciousness. Trends in cognitive sciences, 5(10), pp.418-425.

VELASCO, C., JONES, R., KING, S., & SPENCE, C., 2013. Assessing the influence of the multisensory environment on the whisky drinking experience. Flavour, 2:23.

WILKES, S., WONGSRIRUKSA, S., HOWES, P., GAMESTER, R., WITCHEL, H., CONREEN, M., LAUGHLIN, Z. AND MIODOWNIK, M., 2016. Design tools for interdisciplinary translation of material experiences. Materials & Design, 90, pp.1228-1237.

How to Cite
Petreca, B. B. (2016). Reflections on Designing Material Experience in Physical and Digital Contexts. DAT Journal, 1(2), 31-41.