‘Haptic’, or the sense of touch, was described for the first time in 1892 by the German psychologist Max Dessoir. Now it is defined in encyclopedias as ‘understanding an object by touch’. In recent decades, within the construction and furniture design industries, touch has become increasingly important. Mag. Christian Dallio, Director at Interior Design School Kuchl, provides us with some fascinating insights to the theory of touch perception,and highlights how important this is when it comes to making us feel good.
How important is the sense of touch for people - not just emotionally, but in their every day life?
Mag. Christian Dallio: The sense of touch is something which is very important for humans from an early age. Take the toddler for instance - curious to touch and explore. Likewise, it becomes important again for the elderly when sight begins to fade. During the years in-between it is less important and often only used to assess the quality of materials. For example, my grandmother and mother (who were both seamstresses) used their sense of touch to feel the quality of fabrics.
For most people the sense of touch is something of an "emergency sense organ".
In recent years, however, I've noticed with the bid for perfection, that this aspect is also getting more attention. When everything has to be immaculate - form, colour, sound - then texture must not be inferior to it.
Does the sense of touch change throughout the course of one's life? From newborn to toddler, puberty through to old age?
Mag. Christian Dallio: The sense of touch itself does not change in my opinion, but the meaning of perceived impressions does. For a newborn the body contact with its mother or father provides security, whilst during puberty or adolescence, the most formative 'haptic' experience is the first kiss.
And at a more mature age, haptic may be expressed in the form of status symbols - in the roughness of a leather sofa, the smoothness of a car's chassis, or the sumptuousness of a carpet.