Touching: A Research Method in Art and Design

30 november 2021

In this second edition in a series of explorations of research methods in art and design, the KABK Design Lectorate focuses on how research is conducted through and with materials and matter. As with the previous edition, which focused on walking, the project comprises a video-interview, an exhibition and a publication.

Touching as a research method

The project features the practices, perspectives, and research of students, tutors and workshop instructors from the extended KABK community. At its centre is the research-practice of architect Laura van Santen, who teaches in BA Interior Architecture & Furniture Design.

Earlier this year the Design Lectorate visited Laura van Santen at Cor Unum Ceramics in Den Bosch, one of the few ceramic workshops in the Netherlands that produces contemporary ceramic design in collaboration with (emerging) designers and makers. We wanted to learn about the role of matter, material and touch in Laura’s research and teaching.

Video Interview with Laura van Santen at Cor Unum

Laura van Santen, tutor KABK Interior Architecture & Furniture Design in conversation with Alice Twemlow, KABK Design Lector

Starting from the specific example of the glazed ceramic tiles van Santen is developing at Cor Unum, the conversation extended to topics such as experimenting with ingredients and processes, working with waste and embracing unexpected outcomes.

‘Rather than thinking about a design and starting by asking what a material should do in that design, I like to think about what a material can do. And then the spatial concept can grow from there’.
Laura van Santen

The architect also spoke about the importance of making the knowledge generated by material research—including failures, insights, samples, recipes, and steps—accessible to others. In an exhibition in the KABINETS, to open January 19, 2022, she will further explore this approach. The exhibition will include a selection of material experiments and samples made in the KABK workshops, as a prototype for what a KABK material and sample archive might be.

KABK students & teachers:
It’s not too late to get involved! If you conduct research with materials and prioritize the sense of touch, let us know.

Credits video

Initiative: Niels Schrader and Alice Twemlow
Art Direction: Niels Schrader
Director of Photography: Roel Backaert
Camera and Editing: Yannick van de Graaf
Music: Laura Dilettante
Production: Martha Jager
Location: Cor Unum Ceramics