Haptic Sensations

Haptic sensations are the physical, senso­rial, and phenomenological experiences of touching and interacting with furniture (Figure 7.24). Aluminum feels cool to the touch, even in temperate and controlled conditions. Glass is also cold to the touch, and oils from the hand and fingers can leave marks if the glass is not treated. Vinyl does not pass moisture and can cause condensation to form when direct contact is made with exposed skin. Plastic laminates can be abrasive over time to clothes and skin. In response to these characteristics, designers and companies have sought to work with new materials and have utilized existing materials in ingenious ways. In the 1990s, Steelcase came out with Silique, a material designed for work surfaces, which was not as abra­sive as traditional high-pressure (HP) plastic laminate. Herman Miller uses an open – mesh, elastomeric fabric called Pellicile for their popular Aeron chairs. Many design­ers from the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany, including Mart Stam, Marcel Breuer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, utilized leather and cane wherever their chairs came into direct contact with the human body.

Metals can be plated in a number of standard finishes and colors. Plating is done over a brass or nickel base in a broad variety of metals and in a range of surface qualities. Metal surfaces can be executed in polished or satin finishes.

Concrete can be finished in either a hand trowel or broom finish, or can be etched, stamped, glazed, stained, waxed, or polished. Stone can be polished, hammered, flamed, or honed. Glass can be annealed, cast, distressed, floated, blown, or tempered. For every material used in furniture, there are many options to consider regarding the finish and characteristics of surface quality, and generally, different surface finishes will create different tactile experiences.