How do designers feel textiles?
© 2015 IEEE.Studying tactile experience is important and timely, considering how this channel is being harnessed both in terms of human interaction and for technological developments that rely on it to enhance experience of products and services. Research into tactile experience to date is present mostly within the social context, but there are not many studies on the understanding of tactile experience in interaction with objects. In this paper, we use textiles as a case study to investigate how we can get people to talk about this experience, and to understand what may be important to consider when designing technology to support it. We present a qualitative exploratory study using the 'Elicitation Interview' method to obtain a first-person verbal description of experiential processes. We conducted an initial study with 6 experienced professionals from the fashion and textiles area. The analysis revealed that there are two types of touch behaviour in experiencing textiles, active and passive, which happen through 'Active hand', 'Passive body' and 'Active tool-hand'. They can occur in any order, and with different degrees of importance and frequency in the 3 tactile-based phases of the textile selection process - 'Situate', 'Simulate' and 'Stimulate' - and the interaction has different modes in each. We discuss these themes to inform the design of technology for affective touch in the textile field, but also to explore a methodology to uncover the complexity of affective touch and its various purposes.