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Explorations in Sensory Design


Project: Explorations in Sensory Design

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Grant


This research program asks: How can we best analyze, and gain a critical purchase on, the flowering of the senses in contemporary design? This new trend was consolidated by “"The Senses: Design Beyond Vision"" exhibition, curated by Ellen Lupton and Andrea Lipps, at the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in 2018. In addition to showcasing recent advances in the multisensory design of a wide array of consumer goods and playful artworks, “"The Senses"" exhibition foregrounded the key role played by the notion of ambience in the design of spaces. The ambience of a space is constituted by its architecture and the objects and “"scenarios of activity"" that go on within it. The materiality of the space, and the properties of the objects, are treated as a dynamic whole, mediated by the senses. Our research team, which is comprised of scholars in history (Classen), anthropology (Howes), design (Cucuzzella), communication and performance studies (Dokumaci), marketing (Grohmann, LeBel), and psychology (Johnson), aims to explore and enhance the practice of Sensory Design by interrogating it from the robust, socially and ecologically attuned, multi- and interdisciplinary perspective of the emergent field of scholarship known as sensory studies.


David Howes (PI)
Constance Classen
Carmela Cucuzzella
Arseli Dokamuci
Bianca Grohmann
Aaron Johnson
Jordan LeBel

Research Assistants:

Aristofanis Soulikias
Golriz Farzamfar

Prompted by Juhani Pallasmaa’s assertion “Whereas the hand drawing is a mimetic moulding of lines, shades and tones, the computer drawing is a mediated construction”, I employ hand drawing for establishing my physical relationship with the built environment and, through a mimetic re-enactment, I draw my animated instances by hand, transferring thus the outdoor sensorial experience onto film.  Here, I explore the Urban Park, as part of the Explorations in Sensory Design project, supervised by anthropologist Dr. David Howes, with film animation clips depicting the park’s affordances, specifically the experience of engaging with a tree by touch but also through physical exercise.  Work in progress. The technique is charcoal on paper.

Project 1 and Project 2 are coming soon.

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