Touch - Touch Me, Feel Me, Embrace Me


Touch is the FIRST sense that we experience once we are born into the world.

Touch is so important that the famous Renaissance artist, Michelangelo Buonarroti chose to feature it in one of the most recognized artworks of all times: “The Creation Of Adam”  - where God’s touch breathes life into a listless body and creates a soul.  It adorns the Sistine Chapel located in Vatican City – Rome, Italy.

And,….ironically in our high tech world of hard, fast, slick machines -  it is touch that we employ to see and hear, as with Apple’s iTouch series of gadgets.  Apple understands the lasting power of sensory cues.

Our skin, which is the largest organ of our bodies, touches all the time.

Touch requires physical contact.

In design there are two types of texture:  tactile & implied.  We feel.

These sensations help us build a mental scaffold on which we build our understanding of the world as we develop and as we age.  These physical experiences shape our thoughts and perceptions as well as influence our behaviour towards others.  Now, science has proven that we store these touch experiences in our bodies. Interestingly enough, women, seem to have a better sense of touch.  Their small fingers have more touch receptors.

The world of interiors through the ages is  filled with perfect examples where touch is meant to excite or curtail the senses.

  • Wood can be rough sawn or, smooth and soft like a baby’s bottom.
  • Glass can be cold and smooth or heated and warm.
  • Water walls can be wet and fresh.
  • Silk can be soft, smooth, bordering on the erotic.
  • Clay can be cracked and dry.

Touch and shapes within interior design can evoke a space in time:

  • Baroque interiors feel gnarly with their shapes of ropes and acanthus leaves.  And, their curvy shapes ooze romanticism.
  • Modern interiors can be slick and polished evoking images of simplicity and can be sometimes minimalist and alienating.
  • An ice-hotel is cold and hard.

As we evolve, what was once the domain of a craftsman or artisan, using natural and sometimes delicate materials, can now be produced in a a large scale, cheaply and safely – all the while meeting building codes.

For example:

  • Modular Arts is a manufacturer that produces cast rock panels that interlock for seamless, sculptural surfaces of any size.  They produce  large vertical walls that look like the cracks of the Sahara desert or ripples of water, or laser cut to produce the  lace from grandma’s wedding dress with a peek-a-boo effect.  All with that ‘touch-ability’ factor.  Begging to be  touched, to explore, to dream.  Enhancing a mood – creating a sensual experience.
  • As we turn our attention to the sky and our interior ceilings, we find that Armstrong has succeeded in creating marvellous ceiling panels of woven woods, perforations and undulating ceilings that take their inspiration from woven baskets, kitchen gadgets and clouds.
  • What do we find on the earth, beneath our feet?  Italian ceramic tiles that imitate wood planks.   Or, Johnsonite, which produces vinyl flooring that imitates the leaves of the forest, pearls from the oceans and the texture of wood bark.  The photo reality and depth of these production methods  is impeccable so that you can feel with your eyes.

As you walk and live through your spaces,  I want you to look around you to:

  • FEEL the walls
  • TOUCH the sky
  • SEE the forest and the trees.

Reach out and TOUCH and EMBRACE the environment around you.   Dolores Pian

Some useful web links: