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Current trends in design research suggest that future interactive artefacts will return to communicating through their intrinsic physical and sensory characteristics, through their shape, inherent kinematics, tactile, and acoustic responses to manipulation. In sonic interaction design (SID), several disciplines are at work to shape the acoustic appearance of objects, to convey information through sound, and to enrich the experience of artefacts through sharable use. Basic research in the foundation of SID is aimed at developing an up-to-date curriculum, effective tools, and grounded practices. Inspired to the post-Bauhaus tradition and pedagogy, basic sonic interaction design traces systematic explorations in formgiving and formthinking issues of sounding objects. A research through design approach leverages the evidence, emerging from the development of exercises and progressive accumulation of physical sketches, to the status of design knowledge and theory.
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www.ijdesign.org 139 International Journal of Design Vol. 8 No. 3 2014
Introduction
Before the advent of electronics the acoustic appearance and
behaviour of artefacts were inherently linked to the physical
properties and mechanical conguration of things (and their decay).
The increasing availability of miniaturised microprocessors,
sensors, and actuators makes it possible nowadays not only to
shape permanently the sound quality of computational artefacts,
but also to customise it according to use situation and personal
moods. Sonic interaction design (SID) is positioned at the
crossroad of human-computer interaction and interaction design.
The object of this discipline is the study and exploitation of sound
as one of the principal channels to convey information, meaning,
aesthetic, and emotional qualities in interactive contexts. In this
respect, the research community is strongly committed to 1)
constructing solid foundations for the development of the design
discipline, and 2) grounding the research activity in the design
practice. Therefore, a major debate pertains to the methodology
and practice of a research through sound design (RtD) and its
outcomes in terms of theoretical contributions.
Basic research in SID is concerned with the foundational
aspects of this novel discipline, that is the crafting and the
designerly manipulation of the form and conguration of
sounding objects. In this article we reect on and reassess some
basic research practices in which basic design, in the spirit of
post-Bauhaus tradition, meshes with research through design
of sonic interactions. Especially, we argue that basic design
still represents a valuable approach to tackle the complexity of
contemporary design research in the context of computational
(sounding) artefacts. The peculiar characteristics of basic design
(i.e., methodological, epistemological, ecological, interactive, and
educational) intertwine with the ongoing, lively debate around the
nature of (sonic) interaction design research and its conceptual
and methodological standards.
Sonic Interaction Design
In the article, that appeared in the special issue of the Journal
of New Music Research on The Future of Sound and Music
Computing (SMC), Widmer et al. (2007) drew attention on
a new area of research problems on sound-based interactive
systems. This whole eld of study, not previously addressed
within the SMC community, was labeled as sound interaction
design. Compared to the eld of Auditory Display, which is more
broadly concerned with the use of non-speech sound to present
information, sound interaction design shifted the focus on the
role of sound under the perspective of interaction, especially
continuous and multisensory. The article insisted on the effort of
“using sound in articial environments in the same way that we
DESIGN CASE STUDY
Bauhaus Legacy in Research through Design:
The Case of Basic Sonic Interaction Design
Stefano Delle Monache and Davide Rocchesso*
Department of Architecture and Arts, Iuav University of Venice, Venice, Italy
Current trends in design research suggest that future interactive artefacts will return to communicating through their intrinsic physical
and sensory characteristics, through their shape, inherent kinematics, tactile, and acoustic responses to manipulation. In sonic interaction
design (SID), several disciplines are at work to shape the acoustic appearance of objects, to convey information through sound, and to
enrich the experience of artefacts through sharable use. Basic research in the foundation of SID is aimed at developing an up-to-date
curriculum, effective tools, and grounded practices. Inspired to the post-Bauhaus tradition and pedagogy, basic sonic interaction design
traces systematic explorations in formgiving and formthinking issues of sounding objects. A research through design approach leverages
the evidence, emerging from the development of exercises and progressive accumulation of physical sketches, to the status of design
knowledge and theory.
Keywords – Basic Design, Research through Design, Sonic Interaction.
Relevance to Design Practice – Basic sonic interaction design contributes to ongoing discussion about research on the foundations of
interaction design, with a specic focus on sonic interaction. The development and collection of basic exercises are means to distill
scientic contributions to a designerly way of knowing.
Citation: Delle Monache, S., & Rocchesso, D. (2014). Bauhaus legacy in research through design: The case of basic sonic interaction design. International Journal of Design,
8(3), 139-154.
Received May 16, 2013; Accepted June 8, 2014; Published December 31, 2014.
Copyright: © 2014 Delle Monache & Rocchesso. Copyright for this article is
retained by the authors, with rst publication rights granted to the International
Journal of Design. All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
By virtue of their appearance in this open-access journal, articles are free to use,
with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings.
*Corresponding Author: stefano.dellemonache@iuav.it.
www.ijdesign.org 140 International Journal of Design Vol. 8 No. 3 2014
Bauhaus Legacy in Research through Design: The Case of Basic Sonic Interaction Design
use sound feedback to interact with our everyday environment,”
thus emphasising the lack of evaluation methodologies for sound
design, and of robust knowledge on everyday sound perception.
Indeed, designing sound in interaction is not only concerned with
displaying acts of use with an artefact, but also with recovering
the synchronic and performative aspect of the design practice
itself, whether the designer should produce the sound for a sporty
electric car, the scratching sound for supporting stylus-based
interaction with tablets, or the gait sonication for video-games
or motor rehabilitation systems. In a few words, sound design
practice and research were missing appropriate knowledge and
theories on and for designing the acoustic behaviour of artefacts,
despite of a widespread knowledge on modelling and generating
sound and music through computational approaches.
In the scope of SMC, the topic of sound interaction design
lately became a new eld of research, and as a discipline it was re-
labeled as Sonic Interaction Design (SID, 2007–2011, see http://
sid.soundobject.org), thus stressing a stronger pertinence to the
whole world of the audible and vibrations. From a taxonomical
perspective, one could say that Sonic Interaction Design is to Sound
and Music Computing and Auditory Display as Interaction Design
is to Human-Computer Interaction. SID focuses on exploring new
roles of sound as means to mediate the action-perception loop
when performing actions on and through artefacts, being them art
pieces, products, systems, or environments. The design challenge
is shifted on how to exploit the expressive qualities of sound,
either as display or input, to extract meaning from and respond to
(everyday) physical activities. The purpose is to create meaningful,
engaging, and aesthetically pleasing sonic interactions. In this
sense, sound computing is not merely modelling nor generating
sound, but affecting through design an overall shape aspect of
things, that is their appearance, identity, and experience of use (see
Brazil, 2009; Franinović & Seran, 2013, pp. 39-76; Rocchesso &
Seran, 2009; for a comprehensive state of the art on SID, and
Hermann, Hunt, & Neuhoff (2011) for an overview on the state of
the art on sonication and connections with SID).
In our line of research, the design and assessment of
sounding objects are approached from a perceptual perspective,
that is sound in the action-perception loop is investigated through
design practices. In this respect, the discourse around the form of
sounding objects and our approach to basic design are introduced
and contextualised in the following subsection.
Sounding Objects, Formgiving
and Formthinking Issues
Artefacts whose computational materials (Vallgårda & Sokoler,
2010) are characterized by inherent acoustic features have
been dened sounding objects (Rocchesso, 2004). The term
originated in the context of human-computer interfaces, to
denote appropriate digital sound models provided with dynamic,
perceptually-relevant interactive control, as sonic counterparts
of visual widgets (Rocchesso, Bresin, & Fernström, 2003). As
user interfaces moved from screen-based metaphors to tangible
interactions, the concept evolved to signify any kind of design
in which the sonic interaction is situated, concrete, performative,
and nonrepresentational (e.g., non symbolic), either as a display
or as in input medium (Franinović & Salter, 2013, pp. 39-76).
An exhibition on Sonic Interaction Design took place in 2011 at
the Norwegian Museum of Science, Technology and Medicine,
in Oslo (Behrendt & Lossius, 2011, see http://sid.bek.no/). The
works exhibited represented an exemplar selection of sounding
objects, in which sound is functional to active explorations.
The proper materiality of sounding objects raises general
issues of formgiving and formthinking in both meaning of craft
practice and design choices. In this respect, manifold lines of
research are crystallising a grammar of basic elements and
organisational principles around the form of interaction (Lim,
Lee, & Kim, 2012), just as decades of explorations in visual
form thinking led to the development of a visual literacy (Albers,
2006; Dondis, 1974). Indeed, the physicality emerging from the
combination of computational elements and materials, being
it wood, air, or liquids, is not only a matter of streamlining or
styling. Computers need to be provided with perceptual and
expressive capabilities and actuators/displays that manifest
computed effects on the environment (Valgårda & Sokoler, 2010;
Holman, Girouard, Benko, & Vertegaal, 2013). Starting from
the assumption “function resides in the expression of things”
(Hallnäs & Redström, 2002), the aesthetics and the expression
of interaction are constantly redened in terms of meaningful,
foundational elements, linking form and function (Hallnäs, 2011).
Although form and conguration are extremely volatile
concepts, they are part of the tacit knowledge embodied in
design activities. Research in the foundations of design showed a
renovated interest towards the Bauhaus experience and its legacy.
Research efforts are addressed at emphasising the humanistic
value of the Bauhaus experience, and re-contextualising it in
the digital domain (Anceschi, 2006, pp. 57-67; Binder, Löwgren
& Malmborg, 2009; Boucharenc, 2006; Findeli, 2001). Basic
design, in particular, is the natural venue wherein teachers and
students engage in a systematic investigation of the foundations
of design and develop theoretical tools to handle materials that
are apparently without qualities (Löwgren & Stolterman, 2004).
Within these premises, explorations in basic SID tackle the form
and expression of interaction from the sonic standpoint, and
are concerned with the fundamentals of auditory perception.
Our investigation in basic SID aims at distilling the peculiar
contributions of prominent representatives of the Bauhaus
Stefano Delle Monache is assistant professor at the Department of Architecture
and Arts, Iuav University of Venice. He graduated in law in 2000, and in
electronic music and audio technologies in 2008. In 2012 he earned the Ph.D. in
Science of Design. His main research interests span design practices, methods
and evaluation of sound in interaction, and interactive sound models for
computational artefacts. He is currently involved in the EU project SkAT-VG
(Sketching Audio Technologies using Vocalizations and Gestures, 2014-2016),
aimed at exploiting and developing the use of voice as a sound sketching and
prototyping tool in sound design practices. He has been board member of the
Associazione di Informatica Musicale Italiana (AIMI—Italian Association of
Music Informatics).
Davide Rocchesso received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Padova,
Italy in 1996. He is associate professor at the Iuav University of Venice,
Italy. He has been the coordinator of EU project SOb (the Sounding Object)
and local coordinator of the EU project CLOSED (Closing the Loop Of Sound
Evaluation and Design), and of the Coordination Action S2S^2 (Sound-to-Sense;
Sense-to-Sound). He has been chairing the COST Action IC-0601 SID (Sonic
Interaction Design), and is now also coordinating the EU project SkAT-VG
(Sketching Audio Technologies using Vocalizations and Gestures).
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S. D. Monache and D. Rocchesso
tradition, in the light of the ongoing discussions on the foundations
of interaction design practice. Since a survey of the Bauhaus’
history is out of the scope of this article (Simonini, 2006), the
following section highlights the rich, dynamic contributions
of well-known educators such as J. Itten, L. Moholy-Nagy, J.
Albers, and T. Maldonado: Expression, improvisation (Itten),
multisensory and proto-ecological approaches (Moholy-Nagy),
perceptual understanding, rigour and intersubjectivity (Albers),
and problem-solving and scientic attitude (Maldonado) are the
key elements around which we structure our basic SID exercises
(Franinović, 2008; Rocchesso, Polotti, & Delle Monache, 2009).
The Legacy of Basic Design
The original Bauhaus manifesto was aimed at building a design
curriculum based on a synthesis of art, science, and technology.
The education of future designers was primarily based on the
distinction between Formlehre and Werklehre that is the study of
form and crafting. The workshop represented the ideal setting to
enable this learning. The fulcrum of the Bauhaus curriculum was
the preliminary course, also known as Vorkurs, Grundkurs (as
taught at school of Ulm), or Basic course (as renamed at the New
Bauhaus in Chicago). The basic course was aimed at introducing
students to the design problem of form. Students developed their
perceptual-motor skills, manual modelling skills in manipulation
of materials, and investigated the physical nature of materials and
the basic laws of design. Basic design sets up an environment
primarily devoted to research rather than creation. The teaching of
basic design is condensed in exercises and problems, to be solved
within the framework of specic constraints (e.g., economy
of time and/or means, reduction of parameters). The main
difference between the two categories of assignments consists
in their settlement: Problems admit solutions, while exercises do
not. Instead, exercises promote an experiential learning through
exploration of wicked problems of form. Innite, yet consistent
variations are admitted. Basic SID promotes a holistic view of
design. In basic SID exercises, the comprehension of the dynamic
interplay between parts and wholes (e.g., sensing and actuating
strategies, the gesture-sound loop, how the latter is affected
by other senses, and the mediating role of physical objects) is
methodologically grounded in aesthetics and practice.
Sensitising to Form: Johannes Itten
Johannes Itten’s approach to basic design was deliberatively
expressionistic. Typically, the main goal of basic design is to
develop the creative personality of students through sets of
controlled exercises. The replica is meant to have a scientic
value in making explicit and transmittable a knowledge otherwise
secretly kept. Itten’s pedagogy was largely based on sensory
stimulation. Breathing and relaxation exercises were instrumental
to sensitise the receptiveness of students. Exercises were aimed
at making students prepared-for-action. Exercises and design
problems around colour, material, texture, and rhythm were
largely based on his theory of contrasts (Itten, 1975). Forms and
their variables were investigated by exploring the tension between
their polar opposites (e.g., light/dark, soft/hard). Experimentation
of form was carried out through playful improvisation, thus
emphasising the value of a learning by doing approach. Along the
same line, sound walks and blindfolded explorations of audiotactile
interactions were exploited in SID educational research as
means to introduce and sensitise apprentice designers to sonic
interaction (Rocchesso, Seran, & Rinott, 2013). Similarly, the
expressionistic attitude à-la Itten was largely exploited in a set of
basic exercises conceived to explore the principle of contradiction,
in the design of continuous sonic interactions (Rocchesso, Polotti,
& Delle Monache, 2009). The resulting sounding objects are
parts of the Gamelunch installation (see Figure 1): Continuous
interactions with graspable sensor-augmented bottles and cutlery
(e.g., cutting, piercing, pouring, stirring) are sonied in order to
contradict the gesture or the material being manipulated. The
tension created by the sound feedback emphasises the importance
of sound in everyday life gestures, and bodily awareness (Delle
Monache, Polotti, & Rocchesso, 2013, pp. 225-233).
Figure 1. Visitors performing with sensorised tableware of the Gamelunch. The squeaking fork and knife, the braking jug, the liquid
salad bowl, and the sandlike bowl either contradict, through sound, the percept of gesture or of the material manipulated. Continuous
interaction and sound are brought to the foreground.
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Bauhaus Legacy in Research through Design: The Case of Basic Sonic Interaction Design
A Phenomenological Approach to Multisensory
Interaction: Lázló Moholy-Nagy
Knowledge of materials and mastery of tools are distinctive of
Moholy-Nagy’s (1937) pedagogy. Basic assignments had a dual
purpose: either a specic plastic element (e.g., texture, motion,
space, volume, density) was explored through different media
and along different sensory channels (e.g., painting, drawing
and photography–vision, assembly and sculpting–haptic,
music–audition), or, conversely, the expressive potential of the
various plastic elements were explored with only one medium at
a time. In exercises such as the hand sculptures and the tactile
charts1 , multisensory qualities of the human experience were
brought to the foreground, and space-time relationships were
considered in their emotional aspects:
This experience of the visible relationships of position may be
checked by movement—alteration of position—and by touch, and
it may be veried by other senses. [...] It is possible to distinguish
forms and space through hearing, too. (Moholy-Nagy, 1937, p. 25)
Basic explorations on the qualities of touch are aimed at
extracting practical implications for the design of product surfaces,
such as handles, steering wheels, and packages. Moholy-Nagy’s
phenomenological investigation on the nature of design (Findeli,
1990) can be seen as a sort of predecessor of the later designerly
contributions of the Gibsonian psychology, on the relevance of
the perceptual-motor experience:
Vision in motion is simultaneous grasp - Simultaneous grasp is
creative performance—seeing, feeling, and thinking in relationship
and not as a series of isolated phenomena. It instantaneously
integrates and transmutes single elements into coherent whole.
This is valid for physical vision as well for the abstract. […]
Vision in motion also signies planning, the projective dynamics
of our visionary faculties. (Moholy-Nagy, 1969, p. 12)
Biotechnics was the scientic discipline addressed to study
organic forms (Kiesler, 1939). Described as a method of creative
activity, biotechnics strongly connects with the emerging eld of
design research on Organic User Interfaces (OUIs). In OUIs, the
tight link between form and function is dynamically shaped by the
reactive interplay between computational elements, basic forms,
and materiality (Bongers, 2013). In current design research and
education, basic exercises in continuous interaction (Rocchesso,
Polotti, & Delle Monache, 2009) exploit body movement,
including touch, as a main tool to investigate multisensory
qualities of material properties and physical shapes (Spence &
Gallace, 2011), to improve perceptual-motor skills, and design
rich interactions (Djajadiningrat, et al., 2004).
Rigorous Design Research: Josef Albers
The work of Josef Albers represents a milestone in the framework
of basic design as it is taught today in design schools. His
contribution is especially linked to the renement of the basic
practices and to his studies on the inherent deceptive, unstable
nature of colour perception, condensed in the well-known
Homage to the Square series. His specic focus on interaction
of colours is a designerly systematisation of a vast part of Gestalt
research on gure-ground phenomena in visual perception
(Albers, 2006). His pedagogical motto to open eyes emphasised
the need to mitigate and even discard the inuence of cognitive
heuristics and conrmation biases in design cognition (i.e., the
tendency to interpret evidence in order to conrm pre-existing
beliefs) (Hallihan, Cheong, & Shu, 2012).
Perceptual understanding is at the centre of Albers’
teaching. The systemic coherence and the increasing complexity
of the exercises are remarkable (Kelly, 2000), as in the exercise “1
colour appears as 2—looking like the reversed grounds” (Albers,
2006, p. 18) (and the ascending and descending variants “3 as
4” and “3 as 2”). Albers’ assignments mainly fall in the category
of exercises rather than problems (i.e., explorations with no
unique solutions, instead with potentially innite variations).
Assignments are introduced with demonstrations which constitute
target examples. Exercises are accurately formulated in terms of
criteria and objectives (i.e., target perceptual effects), yet without
rejecting the use of narrative language. A trial and error approach
is exploited to enable decision-making and foster experiential
learning. (Self-)evaluation skills are improved through an
iterative process of judgement and renement. At a design stage
where implications and hypotheses are hardly verbalised, models
and sketches constitute implicit arguments of the designers
current understanding of the phenomena and relationships under
investigation. On this standpoint, objectivity, in a designerly
acceptation, is a central aspect of the innovative contribution of
Albers to design teaching. His approach represents a synthesis
of the scientic instances of generalisability, repeatability, and
transmission, though within a designerly way of knowing.
Hypotheses and theory are embodied in the text of exercises, and
exposed to falsiability, through the execution of the assignment.
In turn, the collections of resulting artefacts represent arguments in
support of the thesis and serve as tools of theoretical renement. A
phenomenological approach based on intersubjectivity endorses
objective evaluation (Bozzi, 1978; Vicario, 1993).
Finally, Albers’ pedagogy payed a great attention to the role
of tools. Ideal tools should not divert students from the core of
the learning objective. This means that if the purpose was to learn
about colour, then the student should not cope with problems
connected to tools (e.g., brushes, pigments), and use colour paper
instead. Constrained, yet purpose-oriented tools have the major
quality of awakening latent sensitivities.
Problem-solving Embodied: Tomás Maldonado
Tomás Maldonado is the fourth radical representative of the
post-Bauhaus schools. His contribution is mainly framed in the
experience of the School of Ulm—Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG
Ulm). As professor and chancellor, he introduced wide-ranging
changes to the Bauhaus curriculum towards a science-centred,
vocational approach. Several new disciplines (e.g., cybernetics,
theory of information, systems theory, semiotics, ergonomics, etc.)
www.ijdesign.org 143 International Journal of Design Vol. 8 No. 3 2014
S. D. Monache and D. Rocchesso
were introduced, with the aim of bringing a solid methodological
foundation to design thinking and action. The basic course was
also involved in a profound transformation. The learning by
doing based on playful and free improvisation is constrained into
disciplined, brief-oriented learning activities. The paradigm of the
exercise is replaced with the model of the design problem, with
well-dened objectives and constraints. The exploratory approach
is replaced by the analytic and synthetic model of problem-solving
(Anceschi, 2006, pp. 57-67). The assignments become extremely
detailed and are conceived as pure abstractions of real situations.
The ultimate goal is to provide students with strong, critical and
methodological abilities that they could more easily apply in the
“real” design practice.
The Antiprimadonna, literally anti-queen bee, is a famous
basic design exercise conceived by Maldonado in the early 1960s:
The visual exercise challenges the formal organisation of seven
vertical bands of variable width and colour, in such a way that
none of them plays the role of the prima donna. The assignment
exposes designers to experimenting with perceptual hierarchies in
visual pattern design, with the aim of developing compositional
skills and mastering the emergence of hierarchies in a controlled
way. An analogous basic SID exercise tackles the non-
hierarchical arrangements of sonic patterns. This design problem
was conceived as an abstraction of auditory displays capable to
leverage the attention and create awareness of the surroundings.
The acoustic Antiprimadonna envisages the organisation of a
soundscape of ve elementary sonic interactions (e.g., impacts,
frictions, and liquid sounds) where none of them stands out.
This exercise represents an investigation in the auditory
phenomena of gure-ground segregation (Winkler, Denham,
& Nelken, 2009). Figure 2 shows a GUI of Antiprimadonna:
The congruence of synthesised sound events (Leech, Gygi,
Aydelott, & Dick, 2009) and the manipulation of the structural
and transformational invariants of sonic interactions (Warren &
Verbrugge, 1984) were exploited as means to specify expectations
in the listeners, that is affecting through design the priming of
sound stimuli from periphery to the centre of attention (Bakker,
van den Hoven, & Eggen, 2012). This exercise was proposed in
several educational contexts, and it is remarkable how students
got different yet interesting and balanced soundscapes.
All these contributions form the landmarks around which
we are consolidating a research through design activity that
can be renamed as basic sonic interaction design. In basic SID,
explorations in the foundation of interaction design mesh with
explorations in auditory perception in interaction. The next section
is organised in four sub-sections, that: i) stress how explorations
in basic interaction design complement with the research and
development of ecologically-founded sound synthesis algorithms;
ii) illustrate the enactive approach of basic SID, by grounding
the arguments in the description of specic exercises; iii) draw
attention on the signicance of appropriate software environments
and raw computational materials as means to experiment sound
design solutions; iv) show the methodological implications of
basic SID, in terms of research through design outcomes.
Basic Sonic Interaction Design
Basic SID can be dened as a practice focused on understanding
through designing the formal, relational properties of sounding
objects (Franinović & Visell 2008; Rocchesso, Rinott, & Seran,
2013, pp.125-150). Basic SID is centred on human perception
and action that exploits a logic based on aesthetics, yet provides
a well-established approach which combines educational research
with theoretical and methodological foundations of design.
Point, Line, Surface Revisited
A comparative reading of Hallnäs (2011), Lim, Stolterman,
Jung, and Donaldoson (2007), and Valgårda and Sokoler (2010)
provides clues of the basic properties of interaction, its formal
elements, and principles of organisation. Furthermore, a reference
to the Bauhaus tradition of basic design, as especially taught by
Itten, is almost explicit in these studies. In Hallnäs (2011), the
timing of using a thing (i.e., the rhythm and the metrics), its
space, the connectivity, and the methodology which link function
Figure 2. Example of GUI with ve sound panels, realised for the acoustic Antiprimadonna. Digital sound models of impact, friction,
and population of bubbles are exploited to synthesise a well balanced soundscape of ve interactions.
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Bauhaus Legacy in Research through Design: The Case of Basic Sonic Interaction Design
and interaction in acts of use (e.g., an augmented or automated
interface, the set of operations which compose the use of a thing)
are proposed as basic design dimensions of the interaction form,
just as point, line, texture, or colour are basic elements of 2D form.
As these visual elements can be organised according to principles
of scale, symmetry, movement, and so forth, similarly the
interaction form manifests in phenomenal shapes (i.e., interaction
gestalts) that can be described and organised according to a set of
basic attributes (e.g., speed, continuity, concurrency). Here, the
research on interactivity attributes by Lim, Lee, and Kim (2012)
is what best approximates the basic design approach: in several
workshops, students were asked to design an interactive artefact,
some teams by exploiting a given set of attributes describing the
spatio-temporal shape of interaction, some others by designing
as they normally would. The authors report a signicant better
quality of the outcomes produced by those teams that were
previously sensitised and introduced to interactivity attributes. The
basic dimensions of interaction form were approached by Valgårda
and Sokoler (2010) from a material properties perspective: the
timing-spacing pair manifested in the physical expression of
computational materials of exhibiting reversible and accumulative
changes, whereas connections between function and interaction
were reected in the property of computed causality. As an example,
research on paper computing focuses on the use of shape memory
alloys (SMA) to memorise and control dynamically the shape of
paper characters and mechanisms (Qi, & Buechley, 2010).
The focus of Basic SID exercises is on auditory perception
in object manipulation. Typically, dimensions and attributes
of interaction are coupled to the dynamical properties of some
(digital) sound models: for example, in one proposed exercise the
rhythmic and cyclic shape of slicing vegetables on a chopping
board is explored in combination with several rhythmic sound
feedbacks and strategies. In another exercise, the continuous
action of screwing a Moka coffee machine is investigated
along three discrete stages of tightness of connection (i.e., low,
ok, too high), coupled to the spectro-temporal evolution of a
friction sound model (e.g., glass harmonica–low connection,
rubbing sound–tight coupling, squeaking sound–too tight stage).
The in-depth discussion of these exercises in continuous and
multisensory interaction can be found in our previous work
(Rocchesso, Polotti, & Delle Monache, 2009). Systematic
perceptual training through hands-on activity is aimed at improving
perceptual discrimination and enabling the ability to perceive the
physical, relational properties of events. Basic SID exercises delve
into those auditory invariants encoded in the environment (i.e.,
the artefact), in order to achieve varying, yet consistent percepts
and facilitate or affect, through design choices, the occurrence of
behaviours. The nal goal is to develop cognitive abilities and
compositional skills in incorporating perceptual factors in works
and recognise them in the work of others.
A Procedural Sound Approach to Basic SID
A procedural audio approach to the basic design of sonic
interaction is complementary to the ones discussed in the previous
subsection: the interactive sound feedback is generated starting
from the computed description of the characteristics of the
sound producing event (i.e., the sounding object), according to a
perceptually-relevant set of rules and control logics applied to live
input (Farnell, 2011, pp. 313-339; Hermann, 2011, pp. 399-427).
In procedural sound, synthesis parameters ideally coincide with
the parameters describing the underlying physical process. The
pressure signal is no longer seen only as variations of frequency
and amplitude over time, instead it is the acoustic, causal result of
specic interactions, or in other words behaviours. That sound is
the sound of that action, the sound of rhythmic slicing, the sound
of screwing two parts together, and the peculiar sound of touching
a physical shape characterised by specic formal features.
Therefore, synthesis algorithms of sounding objects potentially
embody behaviours prior than a specic sound, that is for example
hitting, breaking, bouncing, scraping, walking, or any other
combination of sound producing (inter)actions. The synthesised
sound embodies audible affordances, and as such provides
information about the interaction with the virtual environment. It
is not by chance that the resulting digital sound models are often
identied by the name of the action which normally produces that
sound. This is the inherent meaning of the common quotation
sound affords action. In this respect, a procedural approach
to sound design aims at favouring a realism-in-depth of the
interactive experience, according to the ecological perception
of the world (Chemero, 2003; Vicario, 2003, pp.17-31). As a
consequence, it is straightforward to cross the sound synthesis
parameters with the spatio-temporal shape of interaction and its
attributes. This shift in thinking is remarkable and extremely
relevant not only for the practice, but also for the development of
sound tools tailored to the design activity (see further, subsection
A toolkit for exploration in basic SID).
Learning by Doing and Inter-observation
in Basic SID Exercises
Franinović, Visell, and Hug (2007) explored the feasibility of
a basic approach to SID in several workshop settings. Specic
exercises, such as ear-cleaning, acousmatic explorations of
everyday contexts, Foley-oriented physical sound synthesis,
and design methods, such as speed-dating and body-storming,
were repositioned and bent in the spirit of basic design. Recent
educational research efforts investigated a structured process
of research through sound design, based on incremental
functional-aesthetic and phenomenological assessment of sonic
sketches, demonstrations and prototypes (Delle Monache, &
Rocchesso, 2010).
Usually, preparatory exercises do not make use of any
software-based tool, except for audio/video recording and
playback for analytical purposes. Analytical skills are developed
through assignments that may focus on either simple, immediate
descriptions of sounds detached from their source, or on guided
descriptions of sound quality in interaction, or more complex
analyses of sonic interactions in context. Foley-oriented, sound
synthesis assignments may require to create multi-layered sounds
and scenes (e.g., producing the sound of re crackling) or to
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S. D. Monache and D. Rocchesso
sonify specic interactions with a given artefact (e.g., producing
the sonic display of a cooker). The latter assignments facilitate the
enactive discovery of the relationships between sound, interaction
with and between materials, and gestures. In addition, bodily
awareness and performativity are improved.
A Synthesis-through-analysis Basic Exercise
Synthesis-through-analysis exercises are aimed at opening the
ears. Sensitisation to sound in interaction is achieved through
playful improvisation. One proposed exercise fosters the
investigation and reection on the informative, yet deceptive
nature of sound, at the same time introducing a discourse on the
designerly role of procedural sound tools (Farnell, 2010). This
exercise is generally carried out as group activity in order to
enable shared doing and discussion.
Setup: ordinary objects such as clips, strings, pens,
marbles, boxes of various shapes and materials, elastic bands,
brushes of various type, tape, pipes and others are arranged
according to their interaction characteristics (Gaver, 1993), and
presented on a table placed in front of the audience. A collection of
intuitive, immediate to catch, synthetic sounds, possibly referable
to interactions with the objects available is prepared beforehand
(e.g., the sound of a marble rolling in a metal box).
Procedure: In the rst half of the exercise, a recognition
task of the synthetic sonic processes (e.g., crumpling, rolling
bodies, impacts, types of friction) is introduced and paced as group
discussion. Before the synthetic quality of the sound samples is
revealed, a sound making task is assigned. A quick demonstration
is shown in order to encourage participants to reproduce, in a few
minutes, the target sounds with the objects available on the table.
After some trials, the synthetic nature of the sounds is revealed,
and a discourse around procedural approaches to sound design
(Farnell, 2010; Delle Monache, Polotti, & Rocchesso, 2010)
introduces the exercise to its second part. The next assignment
concerns the parametric manipulation of several properties of
virtual sounding objects (e.g., shape, size, materials, and types of
interactions of the digital sound models) and makes use of the
procedural sound tool, previously used to produce the samples
in the recognition task. The task concerns the manipulation of
the synthetic sounds in order to provide target sensations of the
virtual object or process (e.g., lighter/heavier, smaller/bigger,
slower/faster, other, and their combination). Synthesis exercises
envisage simple manipulation of a few variables as well as
complex conditioning of sensors-captured control signals. Sonic
sketches are assessed in group discussion.
The exercise stresses the informative potential of sound. The
concepts of affordance, structural and transformational invariants,
as well as the subjective discrimination abilities are internalised
through doing. The sound making assignment reinforces the
insights and fosters awareness of one’s perceptual-motor skills.
Participants understand the perceptual effect that physical
dimensions (e.g., mass, force) and properties (e.g., shape, size)
have on sounding objects. They learn the basics of some acoustic
phenomena like impacts and frictions and temporally-patterned
sound events (e.g., bouncing, breaking, crumpling events), and
focus on the tight coupling of the sound-action loop and its
expressive potential. This exercise is preparatory to approach
digital sound models when designing sonic interactions.
In a similar way, a basic approach was exploited to enable
the exploration of paper-driven sonic narratives in a workshop
setting (Delle Monache, Rocchesso, Qi, Buechley, De Götzen,
& Cestaro, 2012). The introduction to basic paper engineering
and paper computing techniques was functional to embed sound
synthesis in simple popables, and provide them with expressive
sonic interactions. Basic assignments required the coupling of a
basic interaction, such as pulling a tab, turning a ap, pushing,
and sliding a character, with a specic sound model, in order to
facilitate quick sketches of sounding pop-ups (see Figure 3).
The workshop experience generated useful reections on
how procedural sound computing on paper may exploit tangible,
movable interfaces as signicant tools for human-computer
interaction designs2.
Figure 3. Example of sonic interactive pop-up on paper. The continuous action of pulling the tab is coupled to the displacement of the
ock of birds from the tree to the clouds, and is augmented with a crackling sound of the tree branches.
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Bauhaus Legacy in Research through Design: The Case of Basic Sonic Interaction Design
A Toolkit for Basic SID Explorations
Tools represent the counterpart of a formgiving and formthinking
approach to interaction design. Moholy-Nagy and Albers strongly
insisted on keeping the knowledge of material and its formal
variables strictly separated from the tools used to operate on it.
In Moholy-Nagy, the goal was to put apprentices in the position
of better comprehending the aesthetic quality of plastic elements
and the technological implications derived by mastery of tools.
For Albers, tools had to be as neutral as possible and heavily
constrained in order to avoid interferences in matter investigation,
and to make the design process as objective as possible (i.e.,
repeatable through continuous rehearsal). Frustration derived
by the how-much-to-how-much problem was found to be an
effective way to focus on perceptual understanding and mastery
of colour papers.
Current approaches to procedural sound synthesis are
split in two main categories (Farnell, 2010; Rocchesso, 2004):
a) signal-based models aimed at reproducing specic perceptual
effects independently from the source (e.g., rain, re, walking),
and b) physics-based models wherein the generated sound is
the resultant of computed interactions between virtual objects
(e.g., impacts, frictions, etc.). The parametric control of signal-
based models is often non-intuitive due to the complex control
layers needed to operate the synthesis engines. On the contrary,
in physics-based, or physically informed models, the synthetic
sound feedback has an intrinsically natural behaviour, since it
is energetically consistent with the action performed. Sound is
described in terms of congurations, materials, geometries, and
interacting forces. Major bottlenecks are generally represented
by relatively high computational costs and little familiarity with
exotic physical parameters (e.g., Stribeck velocity, Reynolds
number etc.).
The Sound Design Toolkit (SDT) can be framed within
these premises. The SDT is a publicly available software package,
providing a set of physics-based models for interactive sound
synthesis. The palette includes several families of sound models
such as contact phenomena between solids (impact, friction,
rolling, crumpling, bouncing, breaking), and liquid-related events
and processes such as bubbles, dripping, burbling, pouring, and
splashing (Delle Monache, Polotti, & Rocchesso, 2010). The SDT
is developed as Pure Data and Max/MSP externals and patches3
and leans on the contribution of two major EU projects. In the
SOb project (Sounding Object, 2001–2003), the rst version of
the library of physics-based sound models was developed and
demonstrated in tasks of human-object continuous interaction
(Rocchesso, Bresin, & Fernström, 2003). In the project CLOSED
(Closing the Loop of Sound Evaluation and Design, 2006–2009),
further development of the SDT (sound models and GUIs) was
instrumental to investigate a structured process of product sound
design. The ongoing EU project SkAT-VG (Sketching Audio
Technologies using Vocalizations and Gestures, 2014–2016)
is using the SDT in the research and development of a tool for
supporting the sketching stage of the sound design process.
The sound algorithms are developed according to three main
points: i) auditory perceptual relevance; ii) cartoonication, i.e.,
simplication of the underlying physics and exaggeration of its
most relevant aspects in order to increase both computational
efciency and perceptual clarity; iii) parametric temporal control
ensuring appropriate, natural, and expressive articulations of sonic
processes (Rocchesso, Bresin, & Fernström, 2003). The GUI
architecture of the SDT, in both PD and Max/MSP environments,
is designed in order to support i) a naïve physics approach to sound
design (Smith & Casati, 1994); ii) a polyphonic allocation of sound
models; and iii) an easy connectivity and interactive control with
external devices. As an example, the screenshot in Figure 4 shows
the palette with the currently available sound models, and two
instances of the splash model (Pure Data version). Each parameter
is controllable with external devices (e.g., via MIDI, OSC, etc.).
Control maps can be edited, saved, and recalled to rapidly compare
a large number of drawn sketches. Congurations of parameters
can be stored as presets and written on disk as text le. The SDT
provides a designerly environment, computationally affordable
for real-time applications on ordinary hardware, to facilitate the
coupling of sound models with physical objects.
In the SDT, procedural sound design gets potentially
closer to early Foley artistry. Sound designers are provided with a
palette of virtual sounding objects that can be combined to create
dynamic sound events.
Sound Design Implications and Reections
Synthetic sound models, software, and algorithmic procedures
are essential materials to work with when experimenting design
solutions through physical, sonic interactive sketches. In the SDT,
the procedural approach to sound design is combined with the
purpose-oriented characteristics of the tool. First of all, where it
is reasonable, parameters are displayed in a conventional range of
0-100 oat units, in order to make the exploration more intuitive
(e.g., for those parameters whose physical values are normally
associated to huge numbers, and whose meaning is difcult
to grasp).
Figure 5 shows the GUI of the impact model which
implements a modular structure resonator-interactor-resonator,
representing the interaction between two vibrating objects
described by means of their resonating modes (i.e., their frequency,
decay time, and gain) (Adrien, 1991). The red parameters describe
the characteristics of the striker, the green parameters describe the
quality of the contact, and the lower left box describes the modes
of resonance of the struck object.
Looking back at Albers’ experiences, we notice that colour
and sound share the same common how-much-to-how-much
problem. Adding how much stiffness to how much hammer
mass to how much velocity to how much decay can become
extremely frustrating, yet the more one advances the exploration
the more the understanding of the perceptual contribution of the
single parameters becomes clear. Setting the resonant modes for
the spectral content of a glass sound may be straightforward by
making a spectral analysis of a sound sample, and then extracting
frequency, decay, and gain proles. Nonetheless, as soon as one
approaches the ne tuning of the glass sound quality, major
frustrating difculties may arise. By manipulating the decay
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S. D. Monache and D. Rocchesso
Figure 4 . Two instances of the splash model. The upper right window shows an example of a control map that manages the temporal
occurrence of splashing events in the upper sound model. The lower right window dynamically manipulates the size of the virtual bubble.
Figure 5 . SDT, impact model. The GUI depicts a general architecture shared by all the sound models.
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Bauhaus Legacy in Research through Design: The Case of Basic Sonic Interaction Design
time and the contact surface (i.e., the shape of the contact)
parameters, a glass sound can easily move from a rounded crystal
glass to a glass tumbler. If stiffness is also manipulated, the glass
sound easily turns into a metal sound, which may emphasise a
stronger pertinence to the striker (a metal spoon?) (Giordano, &
McAdams, 2006). Similarly, changes in global frequency affect
the perception of materials, for instance turning the glass into a
wooden sound. Therefore, the models are extremely malleable,
yet strongly constrained. In a complementary way, Foley practices
and sound synthesis in the SDT foster the perceptual training of
the whole action-sound loop. The whole learning process can be
assimilated to Albers’ idea of automatic drawing. The models
do not need to be programmed, but only acted on through a
continuous rehearsal. The approach to sound modelling in the
SDT reects the same concern of use of colour paper as compared
to the use of pigments. Research through basic design practices
provides important feedback on the value and effectiveness of
both the design process and the digital tools used.
Synthetic sound and physical computing will be key
elements in product sound design. Notwithstanding, procedural
sound design is hardly able to nd the practitioners’ approval.
On one hand, the current role of the sound designer is often
conned to the role of sound selector, on the other hand, design-
oriented tools and methodologies are strongly needed in sound
creation practices. New sound tools should internalise proper
design thinking, and their development should be grounded in
design research and practice. Educational research is potentially
ideal in combining the achievement of an up-to-date curriculum
with the development of effective tools and approaches to design
(Langeveld, van Egmond, Jansen, & Özcan, 2013).
Basic as Research through Design Paradigm
We believe that a renovated approach to basic design can contribute
to the lively debate around the so-called research through design
practices (RtD). The methodological discussion concerns the
relations between science and design research (Koskinen,
Zimmerman, Binder, Redström, & Wensveen, 2012; Stolterman,
2008), the ideal role of theory, and the development of conceptual
and methodological standards that can produce rigorous design
theory (Zimmerman, Stolterman, & Forlizzi, 2010). Forlizzi,
Stoltermann, and Zimmerman (2009) contended the need of
a different research approach to HCI that would “leverage the
design process of repeated problem reframing as a method of
scholarly enquiry” (p. 2894). We notice that this research attitude
is inherent to the pedagogy of basic design and embodied in the
practice of collecting and continuously rehearsing basic exercises.
Designing Hypotheses, Exploring Theories
One major concern shared by basic design and RtD is how
emerging knowledge can lead to a theoretical advancement.
Höök and Löwgren (2012) recently proposed the notion of strong
concept. Strong concepts are abstract design elements, elicited
from the specic use situation, and potentially relevant to a whole
range of designs. They are generative and inuential elements
prone to foster theoretical reection and academic articulation.
According to Anceschi (2006, pp. 57-67), production of
foundational theory in basic design is axiomatic in the way formal
and expressive research meshes with design and teaching/learning
activities. In basic SID, theoretical constructs are typically
manifested and formalised through basic exercises, while raw
models of experimental sonic interactive artefacts (i.e., sounding
objects) constitute externalised knowledge. Figure 6 frames the
structure process of basic exercises: a loop of reective design
practices aims at collecting data and at formatively evaluating
early hypotheses.
Emerging design elements are added, discarded, rened,
and meshed in higher-level conjectures, i.e., basic assignments
(Rocchesso, Polotti, & Delle Monache, 2009). Gaver (2012) and
Bowers (2012) contended the generative and provisional aspects
of RtD theory, communicated through annotated portfolios.
Figure 6. The structured loop of basic SID exercises: the initial set of hypotheses is rened through continuous rehearsal of
designs. Reective design research and practices become means to distill theory in objectives and constraints of the basic exercise.
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S. D. Monache and D. Rocchesso
Annotations form intermediate-level knowledge relevant to a
family of designs (i.e., the portfolio). Like annotations, the texts
of basic exercises are rhetorical devices that serve as strategical
and tactical purpose of inquiry (Buchanan, 2001). Basic exercises
represent synthetic, descriptive hypotheses that, through a
process of constant re-assessment, have the potential to generate
theoretical insights. Like in portfolios, basic assignments are
organised in such a way to communicate the coherence of designs.
From the methodological viewpoint, basic SID and the
RtD approaches are unied in the key role played by artefacts,
sketches, and prototypes, as means of developing, articulating, and
communicating design knowledge. Artefacts are indeed dynamic
means of embodied design thinking, intentionally and implicitly
set in the design rationale and through crafting (Buxton, 2007;
Lim, Stolterman, & Tenenberg, 2008). The well-known Ishii’s
glass bottles (Ishii & Ullmer, 1997) are usually mentioned as a
historical exemplar of RtD: the technology offers the possibility to
reposition the identity of computational materials and interactive
products. Figure 7 shows some relevant RtD exemplars which
moved the design reection from the desktop metaphor of GUIs,
through direct manipulation of musical information, to the
physical, ecological manipulation of sonic information embodied
in the interactive artefact4. Often quoted in the literature on SID,
these examples contributed to nourish the term sounding object to
the status of strong concept.
Stolterman and Wiberg (2010) advocated a concept-driven
research tightly coupled with hands-on design as means to
challenge existing theories and new ideas. In the eld of SID, the
EU project CLOSED (Closing the Loop of Sound Evaluation and
Design), whose theoretical goals are clearly stated in the acronym,
successfully meshed RtD activities with basic design practices.
Major outcomes of the Closed project (2006-2009) i) shed light
on many issues related to perception and meaning of sound in
interaction (Houix, Lemaitre, Misdariis, & Susini, 2007); ii)
developed a set of ecologically-coherent synthetic sound models
(Delle Monache et al., 2009) accessible via a software application,
especially suitable for educational purposes and research through
sound design (Delle Monache, Polotti, & Rocchesso, 2010); iii)
contributed to a systematisation of the process and activities
inherent to the sound design practice, by integrating basic design
with situated methods (Visell, Franinović, & Scott, 2008). Among
the other basic works, the Spinotron, shown in Figure 8, is one of
the concept designs realised in the Closed project: this abstract
physical object is a valuable example of experimental research
on auditory perception in interaction that brings out human
perceptual-motor capabilities by focusing the design on the sonic
information embodied in the features of the artefact (Lemaitre
et al., 2009). As experimental design, the Spinotron was used to
evaluate how different strategies in sound design may affect the
performance in simple tasks, such as pumping at a constant rate.
Finally, Figure 9 shows a thorough map of design research
strategies proposed by Frankel and Racine (2010).
Basic design as a practice is research-oriented, based on
phenomenology and aesthetics, and yet naturally intertwined
with the epistemology and foundations of design. The sphere of
activity of basic SID can be located anywhere between basic,
concept-driven research about design and applied research
through design. In addition, it has been demonstrated that early
and repeated exposure (after the prototyping step) to design
examples improves the quality of creative work (e.g., as it
happens in traditional basic design pedagogy) (Kulkarni, Dow, &
Klemmer, 2012). Early exposure to examples work as a source
of inspiration, provide a selection of existing solutions and
constructs, and sets the abstract threshold of acceptance for a good
quality composition (Bartneck, 2009).
Collecting and sharing basic SID exercises is essential to
developing a literacy based on the accumulation of repertoires of
sounding paradigmatic exemplars, and contributing to a shared
and expressive language of sonic interaction design (Bardzell,
Bolter, & Löwgren, 2010; Pauletto et al., 2011, pp. 59-65).
Conclusions
Future product designers will need a specic competence on
interactive sound. If properly grounded in the design practice, SID
research can strongly contribute to the development of theories
on and for sound design and to the foundation of a reliable
curriculum. In turn, it is likely that design outcomes generate new
questions and topics, thus setting the agenda for future research
aimed at advancing scientic knowledge of specic domain
disciplines. As an example, the encouraging results of the use of
voice as a designerly tool to produce fast and rough sonic sketches
(Ekman & Rinott, 2010) raised several questions about how sound
events are identied by humans and which may be the salient
sonic characteristics involved in the identication. Recent studies
in experimental psychology investigated the potential of vocal
imitations as means to convey the basic acoustic characteristics
of sound events (Lemaitre, Dessein, Susini, & Aura, 2011). In
the larger scope of future sound design tools, computers could be
trained to identify real time, voice-produced sound events, and
Figure 7. From left to right: (a) Ballancer; (b) Squeezables; (c) Reactable; (d) Pebblebox; (e) Audioshaker.
Well-known exemplars of sonic interactive object that fostered the reection around the relations between sound and interaction, and
contributed to the formalisation of the term “sounding object” as strong concept. (see endnote 2 for descriptions and references).
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Bauhaus Legacy in Research through Design: The Case of Basic Sonic Interaction Design
Figure 8 . The Spinotron. Left: the abstract nal prototype, the pumping gestalt is coupled with a synthetic model of ratcheted wheel
sound. Right: internal conguration of the device. Pumping at a constant rate is facilitated through sound.
Figure 9. A geography of design research, adaptation from Frankel and Racine (2010, Figure 1). A basic design approach is
concerned with the epistemology of SID research and its communication within a designerly way of knowing. As such, basic SID elements
span along the whole arc between research about and through design.
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S. D. Monache and D. Rocchesso
synthesise them accordingly, with further possibility to sculpt
and rene them through vocalisations and gestures. Within this
framework, the basic design legacy represents a valuable, readily
operational attitude towards research through design, focusing an
approach that can be renamed as research through basic design.
The exemplar value of basic design is found in the philological
recovery of the art/science/technology unity, claimed in the
original Bauhaus manifesto and in various ways carried out in
the several experiences of its major representatives, especially
Moholy-Nagy and Albers. The several pedagogical approaches
based on economy of time and/or means, experimentation, and
reduction of parameters represent effective strategies to tackle the
complexity of sound design for interactive contexts. In addition,
exploiting a basic design attitude prevents the proliferation of the
umpteenth framework.
In sonic interaction, a research through basic design is
concerned with i) the development of a reliable corpus of basic
SID exercises; ii) the investigation of the basic design process,
that is understanding and making progressively explicit the tacit
knowledge involved in the structuring of concepts, i.e., theoretical
outcomes. The entangled era of disappearing yet ubiquitous
computers requires a strong aesthetic and technological
understanding of computational materials and purpose-oriented
tools, and Moholy-Nagy’s approach to experimentation still
remains a guiding reference. Given the irreplaceable value of
sketches and models as means to develop perceptual-motor skills,
the palette of raw materials and tools to deal with in interactive
contexts should necessarily include microprocessors, components,
and appropriate software environments.
Basic SID exercises synthesise a range of explorations on
auditory perception in interaction. In basic SID, the traditional
Bauhaus distinction between Formlehre and Werklehre is
mitigated by the use of ready-made artefacts, in order to exploit
the rich information coming from everyday life situations. The
objective knowledge, emerging from the exploratory activities
on the form and expression of sonic interaction, nurtures the
theoretical foundation of practice in sonic interaction design.
Sonic interaction design leverages a design culture on the world
of the audible and vibrations, and contributes to the global
advancement of the science of design.
Acknowledgments
The authors are pursuing this research as part of the project
SkAT-VG and acknowledge the nancial support of the Future
and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme within the
Seventh Framework Programme for Research of the European
Commission, under FET-Open grant number: 618067.
Endnotes
1. See for instance http://bauhaus-online.de/en/atlas/werke/
tactile-board, a well-know example of tactile board, by Otti
Berger, from the preliminary course under L. Moholy-Nagy
in 1928.
2. An advanced prototype of sonically augmented popable can
be watched at http://vimeo.com/36679365.
3. http://soundobject.org/SDT/. For a thorough description of
the sound models and the GUI’s architecture we refer to our
previous publications [Delle Monache, et al., 2009; Delle
Monache, Polotti, & Rocchesso, 2010], and a video tutorial
that can be watched at: http://vimeo.com/album/2105400.
4. a) The Ballancer, an experimental tangible interface which
exploits the metaphor of balancing a ball along a tiltable track
to perform a variety of continuous control tasks, (Rath, &
Rocchesso, 2005) b) Squeezables which allow manipulation
of musical information based on physical efforts (Weinberg,
2002), c) Reactable, a collaborative tabletop TUI for musical
purposes (Jordà, Geiger, Kaltenbrunner, & Alonso, 2007),
d) Pebblebox, a grains-based tactile interface for granular
sound synthesis (O’Modhrain, & Essl, 2004), e) Audioshaker
(Hauenstein, Jenkins, 2004), an ecological tangible interface
for direct manipulation of sonic information.
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... Sound documentation (Augoyard and Torgue, 2006;Auinger and Odland, 2007; Delle Monache and Rocchesso, 2014) was used to collect the main data of the research-sound recordings of dress-which were sorted into sonic categories. These categories were analysed, grouped, and presented as a primary taxonomy for sonic fashion. ...
... They learn the basics of acoustic phenomena such as impacts, friction, and temporally patterned sound events resulting from a body interacting with a material (e.g. bouncing, floating, dragging, sliding, and rattling), with a focus on the close connection between the sound-action loop and its expressive potential (Monache and Rocchesso, 2014). The main methods for designing sonic expressions were based on the 'meeting point' between an acting body and a reacting material (see Fig. 160). ...
Thesis
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Fashion is primarily a visual ontology consisting of definitions, theory and methods that are based on visual language. This research revises fashion by approaching it from a different—sonic—perspective wherein sound is considered not as a negative aspect but as a potential source of a new theory and facilitator of the evolution of new methods. Sound is thus presented not as a secondary quality of designed objects, but as the main idea-generator. The research opens new avenues for design thinking with ears rather than eyes. This thesis explores clothing and fashion from the perspective of listening rather than seeing, sounding rather than showing, and is a form of rethinking and redefining fashion by starting with the statement that dress is sound. An investigation into sonic expressions is seen as a disruptive fashion practice, and could be described as a process of ‘unlearning’—encouraging one to leave behind pre-existing knowledge of fashion expressions by focusing on something else when defining and designing processes. That something else is sonic expressions. By rethinking the dressed body as a matter of sound gestalt, this research goes beyond existing communication models in fashion design to examine sonic language, wherein foundational definitions play a central role and form the basis for the new practice. The research was designed to facilitate the exploration and design of sonic expressions. The research addresses an identified gap in knowledge through the Sonic Fashion Ontology, which constitutes new, foundational knowledge of sonic expression. The research findings challenge existing theory with new terms, definitions, methods, and tools, and show the importance of understanding fashion as a platform for new knowledge production and critical thinking, along with unlearning and rethinking preconceptions of what dress is and could be. Furthermore, the results have implications for ways of thinking in design in relation to e.g. diverse communities such as the visually impaired.
... These counterfactual, or contradictory sonic artifacts, have been explored 499 through basic design exercises in workshop contexts [134]. ...
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Book
Bill Buxton and I share a common belief that design leadership together with technical leadership drives innovation. Sketching, prototyping, and design are essential parts of the process we use to create new products. Bill Buxton brings design leadership and creativity to Microsoft. Through his thought-provoking personal examples he is inspiring others to better understand the role of design in their own companies--Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft "Informed design is essential." While it might seem that Bill Buxton is exaggerating or kidding with this bold assertion, neither is the case. In an impeccably argued and sumptuously illustrated book, design star Buxton convinces us that design simply must be integrated into the heart of business--Roger Martin, Dean, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto Design is explained, with the means and manner for successes and failures illuminated by engaging stories, true examples and personal anecdotes. In Sketching User Experiences, Bill Buxton clarifies the processes and skills of design from sketching to experience modeling, in a lively and informative style that is rich with stories and full of his own heart and enthusiasm. At the start we are lost in mountain snows and northern seas, but by the end we are equipped with a deep understanding of the tools of creative design.--Bill Moggridge, Cofounder of IDEO and author of Designing Interactions "Like any secret society, the design community has its strange rituals and initiation procedures. Bill opens up the mysteries of the magical process of design, taking us through a land in which story-telling, orange squeezers, the Wizard of Oz, I-pods, avalanche avoidance, bicycle suspension sketching, and faking it are all points on the design pilgrim''s journey. There are lots of ideas and techniques in this book to feed good design and transform the way we think about creating useful stuff". -Peter Gabriel I love this book. There are very few resources available that see across and through all of the disciplines involved in developing great experiences. This is complex stuff and Buxton''s work is both informed and insightful. He shares the work in an intimate manner that engages the reader and you will find yourself nodding with agreement, and smiling at the poignant relevance of his examples.--Alistair Hamilton, Symbol Technologies, NY Books that have proposed bringing design into HCI are aplenty, though books that propose bringing software in to Design less common. Nevertheless, Bill manages to skilfully steer a course between the excesses of the two approaches and offers something truly in-between. It could be a real boon to the innovation business by bringing the best of both worlds: design and HCI. --Richard Harper, Microsoft Research, Cambridge There is almost a fervor in the way that new products, with their rich and dynamic interfaces, are being released to the public-typically promising to make lives easier, solve the most difficult of problems, and maybe even make the world a better place. The reality is that few survive, much less deliver on their promise. The folly? An absence of design, and an over-reliance on technology alone as the solution. We need design. But design as described here depends on different skillsets-each essential, but on their own, none sufficient. In this rich ecology, designers are faced with new challenges-challenges that build on, rather than replace, existing skills and practice. Sketching User Experiences approaches design and design thinking as something distinct that needs to be better understood-by both designers and the people with whom they need to work- in order to achieve success with new products and systems. So while the focus is on design, the approach is holistic. Hence, the book speaks to designers, usability specialists, the HCI community, product managers, and business executives. There is an emphasis on balancing the back-end concern with usability and engineering excellence (getting the design right) with an up-front investment in sketching and ideation (getting the right design). Overall, the objective is to build the notion of informed design: molding emerging technology into a form that serves our society and reflects its values. Grounded in both practice and scientific research, Bill Buxton''s engaging work aims to spark the imagination while encouraging the use of new techniques, breathing new life into user experience design. Covers sketching and early prototyping design methods suitable for dynamic product capabilities: cell phones that communicate with each other and other embedded systems, "smart" appliances, and things you only imagine in your dreams;. Thorough coverage of the design sketching method which helps easily build experience prototypes-without the effort of engineering prototypes which are difficult to abandon;. Reaches out to a range of designers, including user interface designers, industrial designers, software engineers, usability engineers, product managers, and others;. Full of case studies, examples, exercises, and projects, and access to video clips (www.mkp.com/sketching) that demonstrate the principles and methods. About the Author Trained as a musician, Bill Buxton began using computers over thirty years ago in his art. This early experience, both in the studio an on stage, helped develop a deep appreciation of both the positive and negative aspects of technology and its impact. This increasingly drew him into both design and research, with a very strong emphasis on interaction and the human aspects of technology. He first came to prominence for his work at the University of Toronto on digital musical instruments and the novel interfaces that they employed. This work in the late 70s gained the attention of Xerox PARC, where Buxton participated in pioneering work in collaborative work, interaction techniques and ubiquitous computing. He then went on to become Chief Scientist of SGI and Alias|Wavefront, where he had the opportunity to work with some of the top film makers and industrial designers in the world. He is now a principal researcher at Microsoft Corp., where he splits his time between research and helping make design a fundamental pillar of the corporate culture. * Covers sketching and early prototyping design methods suitable for dynamic product capabilities: cell phones that communicate with each other and other embedded systems, "smart" appliances, and things you only imagine in your dreams; * Thorough coverage of the design sketching method which helps easily build experience prototypes-without the effort of engineering prototypes which are difficult to abandon; * Reaches out to a range of designers, including user interface designers, industrial designers, software engineers, usability engineers, product managers, and others; * Full of case studies, examples, exercises, and projects, and access to video clips that demonstrate the principles and methods.
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