Touch: One of the fives senses through which we experience the world, but one that’s often overlooked. Not by textile designers and tactility experts Sisse Witek and Martyna Golik, who are on a mission to make us get in touch again.
Their work at their Copenhagen studio Witek Golik gives a different edge to everyday objects, whether it’s an unusually textured pillow or the curvature of a mirror. And, they know a thing or two about comfort, having designed their ‘Comfort Collection’ of everyday objects for Milan Design Week 2017. As co-creators of the muun Farniente Beach Mattress, they too found themselves wrapped up in the mood of Farniente, inspired by a way of living down in the Mediterranean. Below, they share how to create a physically comfortable space and discuss whether comfort begins on the skin or in the mind…
Tell us about your work with tactility.
We live in a digital society where sense of materiality disappears. We are perceiving the world around us through images and forgetting about the importance of sense of touch. Through our work we aim to bring tactility into everyday life. A recent example is our ‘Comfort Collection’ for Milan Design Week. For us it was really interesting to question comfort and to question how mental and physical comfort is connected. We started the project with a question: Does comfort lie in our backs or in our brain? With this as a focal point, we created a series of domestic products that through interaction with our perception, make us feel present in our daily lives, and at the same time, positively affect our well-being through a physical and emotional relationship.
"We are perceiving the world around us through images and forgetting about the importance of sense of touch. Through our work we aim to bring tactility into everyday life."
Which design objects and textiles embody total comfort for you each personally?
Martyna: For me it is a lot about smell connected to products. Smell can bring us to certain moments and situations in our lives. It doesn’t have to be any specific object and it definitely doesn’t have to be a beautiful one. An example can be smell of an inflatable mattress in winter time – I can instantly be transported to a sunny day on a beach.
Sisse: To me comfort is not tangible, it is a state of mind that is closely connected with a memory or a situation, products that invite me into these situations or that invite to memorise special moments is what I connect with comfort. That said, I have a weak spot for everything soft, and I have a really close relationship with my bed… and with my sneakers.
Useful experience for the Farniente collection. Tell us, how did you relate to the concept behind it?
I think everybody needs these moments of total laziness because, paradoxically, when our brain is in a total relax mode we can come up with the most creative ideas. It would be great if people understood the importance of not doing anything and started a whole global Farniente movement.
"It was really a lot about treating the mattress as a piece of furniture to understand how we wanted to bring the comfort we know from our beds into a portable product."
How did you approach designing the Farniente beach mattress?
Our main consideration was to create a luxurious product that is portable and that is able to withstand the outdoor environment. The biggest challenge was to find the right materials and for that reason we spent a lot of time scouting for them. In our work we always like to work directly with the materials. For the product, it was really a lot about treating the mattress as a piece of furniture to understand how we wanted to bring the comfort we know from our beds into a portable product. We wanted to experiment with the upholstery techniques used for indoor furniture like sofas and armchairs and apply it to a compact and convenient outdoors product. In short, we wanted to bring the indoor comfort outdoors.
What is a comfortable space to you?
To us, a comfortable space is a space where you feel so well that you forget the everyday rush and your everyday problems for a while. In our work we try to do this by creating products that give a holistic tactile experience and stimulate your body and mind on different levels. In other words, a comfortable space is when all senses – taste, smell, touch, sound, vision – are pleased at the same time.
"A comfortable space is when all senses – taste, smell, touch, sound, vision – are pleased at the same time."
So what kind of tactile textiles would you introduce to create a comfortable sensory environment?
Arranging space with textiles is one of the things that can contribute to making a space comfortable. Textiles are closely related to our body and surrounding oneself with a soft blanket or comfy pillows will affect both one’s physical but also mental comfort. Textile elements in interiors also make them visually softer and warmer – for instance having a rug on the floor or a curtain in the window makes a big difference.