Tactile stimuli from nature, captured in artificial, interior surfaces by Bori Kovács
We have all longed for times when we can walk barefoot on grass, feeling the soft, yet prickly blades beneath our feet. We have memories of running our fingers over the bark of a tree. These times are among several haptic experiences from nature, which truly stay with us.
In an increasingly visual and digital world, product and conceptual designer Bori Kovács is making tactile stimuli significant again. She has captured the qualities and essence of stimuli from nature and brought them to man-made, textured interior surfaces.
In front of me, is an array of these surfaces, crafted by her. They are soft, scratchy, bubbly, smooth, fuzzy, shiny, etched and subtly engraved. Touching this assemblage of textures and materials would surely trigger a host of different sensations and reactions, including, no doubt, the urge to keep touching and interacting with the surfaces. And that is precisely what Bori would want.
Bori is a young designer from Budapest, Hungary, who is practicing in the UK, and is in the unique position of both conceptualizing such unique tactile surfaces and experiences, as well as fabricating them herself. She has a dual background in Three-Dimensional Art, and in Contextual Design from Manchester, UK, and Eindhoven. This has equipped her with a strategic skill set– uninhibited, fresh conceptual design paired with craftsman-like fabrication skills.
Bori's research and projects range from the 'Please Do Touch' project–which brings stimulating experiences from nature to interior surfaces in the form of 'half-products, to beautiful lamps made from three starkly different materials and fabrication techniques, to create similar forms which come together seamlessly as one. Her work is thought-provoking and reflects an interest in research and investigation into materials and technologies.
We are intrigued by Bori's work and look forward to seeing it evolve and develop further with time. Recently, we spoke with her about her current and past work, and what she looks forward to creating in the future.
MD: Bori, tell us a little about your background–at the Manchester School of Art and the Design Academy Eindhoven. How do those experiences feed into your work and interests?
Bori: At 18, I moved from Budapest, Hungary, to go to the Manchester School of Art. I studied Three-Dimensional Design there. The course I completed was oriented towards an end-product, and the approach was very craft-like, not just industrial.
This was valuable training for me.
And yet, as I approached the end of my time at Manchester, I felt that I was also interested in the more conceptual, research-like aspects of design. I applied and was accepted to the MA in Contextual Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven. The course and my talented classmates created an environment with many different perspectives and challenging ideas of design.
Here, I was able to realize some of my strongest conceptual interests, but I also determined that I did not want to let go of the hands-on aspect of my work. This, even though many of my classmates did not feel compelled to create physical output. I decided that I wanted to bring people closer to objects, but not through visuals alone. It was at this point that I discovered a keen interest in the tactile language–a language that is still, to some extent, unexplored. My research at the Design Academy was about materials, psychology and the tactile language.
MD: We are extremely fascinated by your 'Please Do Touch' project. We love the many 'half-products' you created and the stimuli you have introduced. Do share with us how this project began and unfolded.
Bori: This was an incredibly difficult, but rewarding project for me. I wanted to challenge the conventional ideas of a positive tactile experience. In interior design, conventionally, something soft and fluffy would qualify as a positive sensory experience. I wanted to show people through this project that a scratchy, and rough surface could also lead to an enjoyable and positive experience.
The reason that these many experiences were manifested as only 'half-products' was that I didn't want to thrust form onto these objects, instead letting the materials shape themselves. Perhaps this made them less understandable or readable to viewers, and that is something I would like to explore as I research and develop these surfaces further.
MD: How were the many surfaces you showcased in this project created, and what materials were used?
Bori: Most of these surfaces have been made by hand, and low-tech machine processes.
The only exception was the fabric, which was created in collaboration with textile manufacturer Febrik. There was a broad range of materials used, from metal and plastic yarn to silicon and rubber. I also tried to unite machine and handmade techniques.
For the fabric, I approached Textile manufacturer Febrik, and they agreed to produce a 5m long fabric prototype of this stimulating, interior textile developed by me.
MD: Bori, where do you envisage and hope that such surfaces will be used in the future?
Bori: I would love to see such surfaces make their way to highly tactile interior environments, which truly engage with the viewer. Large scale, immersive installations.
What I imagine is something between furniture and architecture. You could call it 'super-furniture.' I would want to continue to observe people using and interacting with such designed surfaces; To watch them using, not just their hands, but their whole bodies, to engage with such surfaces.
MD: You refer to the natural environment as a diversity of experiences and stimuli, and seem to draw inspiration from here. Is nature your biggest influence?
Bori: Yes, Nature is a strong influence in my work. But Nature, here, is seen in a very different way. The standard hues and organic forms which one usually associates with the imagery of nature are not what I am trying to capture. I want to capture some of the hidden, odd and strange aspects of Nature and translate them into experiences through surfaces.
MD: Some of your other work, like the 'Revolve Lamp', was about the process of fabrication, more than the material itself. Tell us about that.
Bori: For the lamps, I was trying to combine several different processes, and different materials to create similar results–rotational forms that would fit together seamlessly, no hinges or links, using only gravity, to build the lamp.
I think materials and processes are always two key interests in my work.
MD: Bori, what are you working on currently and what is next for you?
BK: I am currently practicing as an interior designer at a firm in London. The 'Please do touch' project is something is always ongoing for me. My goal now is to convert the prototype developed with Febrik, into actual usable interior surfaces to be used on a large scale and products.