Puppetry as an alternative approach to designing kinesthetic movements

2019-04-22T21:07:36Z (GMT) by RTD Conference Kensho Miyoshi
‘Kinesthetic empathy’ refers to the experience of kinetic sensations of observed movements. It becomes a useful lens for designers to explore the aesthetic quality of the movements of designed objects (e.g. fans, doors, clocks, robots) from an embodied perspective. It also empowers them to imagine and create alternative beings of everyday objects and their movements. In this way, it could eventually lead to rethinking our embodied relationship to the artificial world, especially physical movements of objects and spaces. This paper presents a practice-based research in which four product designers including the author proposed imaginative kinetic products informed by kinesthetic empathy. Rather than moving quickly from ideation to prototyping functional, mechanical motions, our approach was experimental, i.e. we conducted a more flexible and intuitive exploration of movements in collaboration with ‘unusual’ partners for product designers—puppeteers. The collaborative design process exposed us to unseen benefits and challenges of adopting puppetry as a means to design kinesthetic movements of objects. By bringing together each practitioner’s reflection on their design processes and outcomes, the paper concludes by proposing a new design approach to kinesthetic movements that bridges product design and puppetry.