Sensations and Perceptions

'Do Scratch', Marti Guixé, Droog BV, 2000, photo by Bianca Pilet

We all have the capability to touch and be touched. As infants we explore the world with our hands and mouths. As adults we communicate with a language of gestures as well as words.

The touch skills we display on a daily basis use only a small portion of these latent capabilities. These abilities can be developed through learning and doing - from the communication skills developed by the visually impaired to the tactile knowledge shown by craft makers.

Makers develop skilled movements that are important in forming and confirming shapes. There is pleasure to be had in both making and seeing a fluent, expressionist gesture. The emotional impact of seeing a line set down with knowledge and economy, or a form that looks and feels just right in texture, colour and shape, is difficult to express but it seems to have its counterpoint in every human activity - from the fluency of a ballet dancer's movements to the quick dexterity of a mobile phone texter.

Touch is an important component of communication - from the gestures we all use, to abacus systems and different forms of Braille and sign language. Many educationalists have advocated active learning styles for children that utilise the sense of touch - from Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner to the Kindergarten movement.

Touch Me includes a range of commissioned works that explore what these touch capabilities can mean - ideas of learning, imagining and recreating touch. The Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea has created Tune Me, an immersive and responsive tactile environment which takes as its starting point the multi-sensory rooms designed for the visually impaired, deafblind and users with learning disabilities. The exhibition includes a series of short films exploring the maker's hand and the skills developed by craft makers in different fields. The Do Create Project by Droog Design encourages all of us to enjoy the contact and physicality of the creative process, by adapting and personalising products for our homes in unusual ways.