Bruna Petreca

Radically Relational Lab: Approaches for designing from and into feel

This Radically Relational Lab responds to timely topics in view to current socio-technical challenges, and which are aligned with the Burberry Material Futures Research Group agenda. These are: (i) sustainability challenges related to fashion cultures of consumption, and (ii) disconnect between digital and physical fashion experiences. In order to start to address the pressing need for transitioning to more sustainable practices in fashion design and consumption, this lab proposes to take us back to the invisible dimensions of human experiences, in order to get us back in touch with textiles and our experiences.

This lab builds on Petreca’s investigations taking a micro-phenomenological approach to how we feel textiles, and on the relevant embodied processes to experiencing and selecting textiles that were observed (Petreca et al., 2015, 2019). In this lab, the emergent experiential phases from this prior research, namely ‘Situate’, ‘Simulate’, and ‘Stimulate’ (Petreca et al., 2015), will be used as a framework to the discovery-creative activities that will be proposed. Participants will be introduced to the relevant practical-theoretical background and to diverse tools, techniques and strategies that position relational principles (based on interactions with ‘others’- people or things) and embodied processes at the core of the creative practice as a radical proposal for the design of experiences. Such activities have a particular focus on supporting participants in focus, elaboration, articulation, and communication of the touch experiences they have through and with (textile) materials and products.

The ultimate goal of this lab is to observe with participants how tuning into how we feel may reveal a powerful approach to more meaningful experiences with and through textiles, that can help us re-signify our present relationship with clothes.

Bruna Petreca is the Research Fellow in Human Experience & Materials at the Burberry Material Futures Research Group (BMFRG) of the Royal College of Art. She holds a PhD in Design Products (Royal College of Art), and a BA in Fashion & Textiles (USP, Brazil). Her research is focused on multi-sensory and embodied aspects of materials experience in design. At the BMFRG Bruna contributes by addressing the human sensory experience of materials both in physical and digital environments. This research is focused on enhancing and complementing existing knowledge of materials (particularly aged, bio-, and waste-based materials), and supporting the development of new models of production, consumption, communication, and archiving. Bruna also contributes with pedagogical development and teaching in the sensory and sustainable topics around materials & design at the professional MA from Belas Artes University in São Paulo – Brazil, and is a member of the micro-phenomenology community.


  1. Petreca, B., Saito, C., Baurley, S., Atkinson, D., Yu, X. and Bianchi-Berthouze, N., 2019. Radically relational tools: A design framework to explore materials through embodied processes. International Journal of Design13(2), pp.7-20.

2 Petreca, B., Baurley, S. and Bianchi-Berthouze, N., 2015, September. How do designers feel textiles?. In 2015 International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII) (pp. 982-987). IEEE. Vancouver

Kevin O’Connor

Workshop:  A Precarious Crossing: Touching Fascial Relations

In this workshop we will touch into and explore the bio-tensegrity model of the body in relation to fascia research through a movement score.  A score can be thought of as open-ended rules to a game that people play within. We will examine how the score might orient our touch, and by extension the sociality of those participating in new ways.  We ask, how might our touching in this score always be collectively made?

Fascia can be thought of as the viscous goop that connects, divides, and slides between muscles, organs, skin, and cells. It has also been found to be active, intelligent, communicative, and a sensory organ, liquid, solid and mucus. Fascia research stretches between communities of biologists, massage therapists, clinicians, anatomists and pathologists, yoga and pilates teachers, embryologists, pharmaceutical researchers and doctors, and dancers, where each is partially connected to each other. This practice-as-research workshop thinks with the performance method of scoring to track the emerging science studies on fascia as this 21st century biological-cultural material comes to form. Through scoring, we touch into a tensegrity model of the body and attend to attention to track the political and social assumptions within fascia research.

Bio: Kevin O’Connor is a multidisciplinary artist working as a choreographer, dancer, improviser, circus artist and installation artist from Ontario, Canada and now based in the Bay area. He is involved in a decade-long artistic collective exploring participatory de-colonizing performances within polluted watersheds in Ontario. Over the last few years, he has worked with NAKA dance in Oakland, Shakiri and Skywatchers in the Bay Area, Oncogrrrls feminist art collective in Spain, and collaborated with Inuit hunter and designer Paulette Metuq on a project in Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic. He has been learning with the Axis Syllabus community for over a decade and is a biodynamic CranioSacral practitioner. He completed an MFA in choreography and is currently finishing a Ph.D. in performance studies at UC Davis. He is working at the intersection of arts, sciences, practice-as-research and improvisation theory and practice. His research examines anatomies, body performance capacities, interventions and imaginations in relation to science studies, including the material-bio-cultural tissue called fascia.

Mary Margaret Groves

Mary Margaret is an artist from Tennessee, now based in Los Angeles, California.  Her works consist of paintings, installations and video art, gaining material from interpersonal research in the form of interviews and questionnaires. She is interested in what we learn when science and intuition collide.  

Her work focuses on connections between people, connections between microscopic and macroscopic worlds, and playful exploration of gender boundaries. She asks the viewer to toss aside conventional understanding of gender and sexuality, in order to play with genitalia in a gender fluid way.   



Romain Bigé

TOUCHY SUPERJECTS: haptics, posture, and individuation

In Ancient Greek, the verb for touch is haptomai. Contrary to the way it is said in English and other Indo-European languages, haptomai is neither active (touching) nor passive (being touched), but medial (touching-and-being-touched, inseparably). The medial is a verbal diathesis that can only be found in Ancient languages, such as Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. In the medial, the agent is at the same time the origin and the site of their action (Benvéniste 1966). In the medial, what I do is simultaneously what makes and affects me. Being born, dying, touching, dancing, pondering… all those verbs, in Greek, can only be said in the medial, pointing to activities or events that we participate in, and that reciprocally, we emerge from.

In this lecture weaving phenomenology (Straus 1935), process philosophy (Manning 2013) and somatic practices (Godard 1995), we’ll trouble our grammar with touch. We’ll envisage how haptics and the ways we are held contributes to the way we hold and support ourselves on the Earth’s surface. We’ll think of the touching subject as a touching superject: an emerging feature of relations in an affective environment.

Romain Bigé, PhD, digs, writes about, curates, and improvises dance and philosophy. Lives and teaches nomadically in and out of Paris, France. Currently is Philosophy and Epistemology Professor at Aix-en-Provence Fine Arts School (ESAAix). Fell in dance in North America and Western Europe with Steve Paxton, Lisa Nelson, Nancy Stark Smith, Matthieu Gaudeau, and many others. And now investigates the somatopolitical potentials of dance for mobilizing sensitivities to other critters.


 Reflecting on the matter of body memory with my new textile material.
Touch is a delicate merge of fragile Icelandic wool fibers & solid carpet knots, transformed into subtle layers of fur-like shades of poetry, reflecting human body energy layers and body memory from touchy experiences.

 My soft piece is currently on public view in a group show called: IS THIS COLOUR, may 11th – june 23th in Copenhagen centre: THE ROUND TOWER.

Love Signe

“A living human skin is not just a surface. A living skin is the direct transition to a humans inner life. The heart. Before you get to touch your lovers skin, you travel through layers of invisible fur. This may take time. It may take a while before you get to touch the actual skin material. When you finally get there, you enter the actual merging fase. The more you touch, the more you will merge. After a while, your touch will be visible and you changed your lovers blueprint forever. Let it be a gentle touch. Like approaching an animal for the first time. Humble. Slow. With presence and respect ”

– Signe Emdal COVER magazine writes, may 2019 :The subject of touch and physical contact is very important in the current digital communication world we live in, as designer Signe Emdal agrees.
We have been following Danish textile artist and designer Signe Emdal´s creations in COVER since 2016. Her impressive weaving skills combine with highly original concepts, making the resulting pieces remarkable in more ways than one.Her latest work My Little Icelandic Pony will be part of an exhibition curated by Kontempo- an association of Nordic textile designers“Is this colour?”is at the Round Tower in Copenhagen, from 11 may – 22 june 2019.
“I usually work with industrial making of fabrics”, says Emdal. “Especially jacquard techniques, knitted and woven. But in august 2018 I created a new adventure with an analogue knot-tec. I named the technique “touch”. Its a hybrid of a few things.. READ MORE

Nita Little

Relational Intelligence: An issue of tactile embodiment

This introductory workshop will explore functional aspects of embodiment, allowing attendants to experience ways that spatial touch influences their relations with other people and the physical world. Through exercises that investigate the physicality of attention we will influence how we behave as a body that is inseparably a mind. We will come to understand that all embodiments are not equal in their relational potentials, and how language, imagination, time, and spatial practices change what we believe is possible and what we can do together.

ALASKA – Studio for Feeling

ALASKA – Studio for Feelings investigates emotions as bodily, sensuous phenomena. We understand humans as participant in their experiential evolutions and the development of what they can feel. Feelings are trained, habituated, and valorized, incorporated into our bodies and thus enacting the normative regimes of our societies. Therefore we ask: How and to what end are we moved and touched? Our work takes the shape of environments, workshops, performances and interactive installations.

ALASKA – Studio for Feelings are Anne-Sophie Reichert and Esther Vorwerk.

ALASKA’s latest project is a PREASURE LAB [pressure, pleasure]. Inspired by the work of the US-American autism activist and animal scientist Temple Grandin, the lab investigates the effects and affects of physical pressure on the human body. Grandin built herself a hug machine when she was in college: she desired the feeling of being held yet felt overstimulated by human touch. The lab provides a number of newly designed hug machines that put pressure on different parts of the body. Visitors interact with these devices and experience the sensuous and affective changes of being cared for by a machine. The PREASURE LAB, including somatic pressure workshops for adults and hug machine building for children has been set up in Berkeley, CA in 2018 and at Kunstpunkt gallery in Berlin in 2019.

ALASKA – Studio for Feelings
instagram @alaskafeels

Andreas Roepstorff

Andreas Roepstorff is director and professor of Cognition, Communication and Culture in the Department of Clinical Medicine and School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University. He speaks about his research during the workshop ‘Experimenting, Experiencing, Reflecting – Art and science at work in the public realm’, which was held at Studio Olafur Eliasson between 26 and 27 June 2018. The workshop was a collaboration between Olafur Eliasson and Andreas Roepstorff, Studio Olafur Eliasson, and the Interacting Minds Centre in Aarhus. The primary goals of the experiment were to create a sense of enthusiasm and possibility, to open up a fertile dialogue, to achieve consensus on critical topics for further engagement, and, finally, to engage participants through experiences and experiments rather than presentations, emphasising participation, embodiment, and collaboration. Publications and more.