LEE SANGHYEOK ::
LISTEN TO YOUR HANDS

All the senses, including sight, are extensions of the sense of touch;
the senses are specializations of skin tissue,
and all the sensory experiences are ways of touching

J. Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin

Constantly bombarded by “a continuous rain of images”, as defined in Italo Calvino’s American Lessons. Six proposals for the next millennium, we feel the sense of touch so essential to take it – paradoxically – increasingly for granted. Young designer Lee Sanghyeok, with the desk Listen to your hands, selected for the D3 Design Talents Competition and nominated for the Interior Innovation Award 2012 at IMM Cologne 2012, criticizes the current tendency to focus on the iconic value of design, and invites us to rediscover touch as the only effective way to interact with things.

In the promotional video of the project, desk drawers are opened and closed suddenly: every violent push forces the hasty opening of another drawer, and it is only when all are closed gently that, finally, there is peace. As suggested by the work of Lee Sanghyeok, it is exactly this ability of action to distinguish design from other creative arts: the objects are not contemplated, but lived.
The first to explore the tactile language of design was Bruno Munari in 1931, with his boards made of wood, sandpaper, cork, rope, metal, leather and other extravagant materials, designed to lead to different stimuli in direct contact with skin. In this research about the material appearance of the product, experiments are run that play with surfaces and textures in order to provoke unexpected poly-sensory reactions: it’s the case of Plastic Chair in Wood by Maarten Baas, a masterpiece in wood in the likeness of the classic plastic chair. The tactile sense is the foundation/basis of our cognitive relationship with the world: the body “feels”, and in virtue of its sensitivity, it deserves our complete attention. In the era of touch screen, as we are accustomed to barely touch objects to get a pulse, it is essential to re-educate our body to the pleasure of touching. Because design is in our hands.

Giulia Milza
15.02.2012

Further Recommended Bibliography

 
- M. Mezzeo, Tatto e linguaggio, ed. Editori Riuniti, Roma, 2003
- B. Munari, I laboratori tattili, ed. Corraini, Mantova, 2004
- J. Pallasmaa, Gli occhi della pelle, ed. Jaca Book, Milano, 2007