This last May, WantedDesign welcomed visitors to experience the products and offerings from some of the best design-focused material manufacturers, including 3M, Wolf Gordon, Ultrafabrics, 3Form, Caesarstone, and the Mohawk Group. Royce Epstein has spent a 20+ year career as a materials specialist in A+D before joining the Mohawk Group where she watches for new trends in all aspects of design and culture. Royce blends her passion for design, craft, sustainability in order to make products more meaningful, infusing them with purpose and beauty. She shares her point of view on the role that tactile materials play in a modern world as our experiences are further shaped by technology.
LOSING TOUCH, GETTING TACTILE, By Royce Epstein | LEED AP and Industry IIDADirector, Design Segment | Mohawk Group
Design today is at a crossroads. We are now experiencing a hybrid of digital and analog life that on one hand drives progress, but conversely creates a desire for more honest and slow living. While many are pushing the boundaries of design with new frontiers of technology, the hand is coming back into the process.
Anything made by hand is desirable, especially where the making process has been expressed; the more authentic and imperfect, the better. And as we become more immersed in the digital era, the role of materials and tactility is taking on greater importance than ever before. Touch is one of our primary senses that lets us understand the world. However, now that we all communicate through glass screens on our devices, we are losing our sense of humanity and thus craving creature comforts. As such, materials are becoming a crucial interface to the human body and how we experience the built environment. With 24/7 streaming commonplace, and our attention spans shrinking from distraction, physical space needs to up its game. We must integrate interactive spaces that compete with digital life, and yet provide a sense of comfort and the notion of home, and remind us that we are still human.
We need spaces and materials that delight and engage the senses, utilizing extreme texture, deep surface relief, and high touch. Sleek and minimal spaces that were the norm will now be replaced with elements that speak to sight, touch, sound, and smell and most importantly, emotion. People want to connect to where they are, or we will lose them to the internet.