Haptic: An expression in postmodernism.

“The term “Haptic” means relating or pleasant to the sense of touch.” said Kenya Hara in the second chapter of his book “Designing design”. To put it into context, his concern was that modern technology was focused more on the incorporation of more function and universal ergonomics than the actual sensory feel of the product itself. To fully understand why this was important, Hara said, ” A human being is a bundle of senses working hard to perceive the world.” And since a human being is essentially senses put together, would it not make sense(pun intended) to design for the senses in addition to the uses?

Then comes the second bit, how does postmodernism come into this equation? Post modernism, according to a number of “experts” of the subject, is everything and nothing. It a chaos, a pluralism and the substance of style. Amazing words for any situation, you could take the same phrases, assign them to an unfamiliar subject, and no one would be any-the-wiser about it. So as vague as postmodernism is, once again, how does the idea of “Haptic” come in?

Haptic bristlesWe start by examining the exhibitions in Kenya Hara’s “Haptic”. This particularly “Haptic” letter H was designed by Hara himself. Just looking at it causes you to feel the sensations of a furry¬†animal brushing against you, and that is the essence of “Haptic”. Each person would relate differently to that sensation. Animal lovers would feel a gentle sense of comfort, and those not so fond of animals would liken the sensation of being brushed by a yard brush. Reading through my description, you could almost empathize with those individuals. This is “Haptic” in writing.



Haptic Juice

Let me turn your attention to another stellar exhibit in his collection. Naoto Fukusawa’s “Juice Skin”. Just looking makes you taste the flavor of this “unknown” juice. In this literal example, Jasper Morrison had an excellent quote, “Haptic means to make the senses drool, doesn’t it?” While you would literally drool over this product or grilled meat, how can you make a visual, aural, tactile, and olfactory “drool”? The answer is simple yet complex, it is to produce a tantalizing product tailored to each and every individual. That, is where postmodernism comes in. To create something good that appeals to everyone is literally impossible, and at the same time, quite possible… IF it could come in various incarnations and expressions. Now we understand postmodernism.



Lost? the TL;DR version is that postmodernism is all about the expression of the individual at (possibly)some expense to the function of a product while keeping to it’s purpose in general. Everything and nothing, pluralism, the substance of style, and chaos. That is what postmodernism is.

So at the end of the day, as “Haptic” appeals to the individual through a multitude of expressions, and is relating to each individual through the common medium of “sense”. A unity in pluralism, everything and nothing at once. Haptic is truly an expression of postmodernism.




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