The HAPTICA project was completed in 2020. The documentation of the project will be mainly done by using the Research Catalog editing platform. 


Haptic is about  developing a scientific path within the field of aesthetics that will emphasizes haptic aspects of movement, touch, taste and smell in relation to a creative gestalt process.      


Our vision will be to show how different senses interact with each other and refute the division of our senses into ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ categories.

We will not exclude vision or sound, but rather emancipate all our senses by focusing on the common shared haptic experience within our tactile-, smell- and taste senses as explained in survey of the field for a definition of haptics.


Below are the aims the project will address:

  • To generate methods for learning about how haptic perception can support the gestalt process.

  • To further develop and document aesthetic laboration methods.

  • To integrate haptic perception with smell & taste.

  • To develop design processes that apply results from aesthetic laborations.

  • To develop links between interactive haptic technology and human haptic perception.

  • To develop methods for exploring the haptic skills of an expert taster.

  • To develop methods for exploring the haptic skills used in creating and engaging in mealtime experience.

  • To translate sensory science methods as a design tool to support haptic perception.


By limiting the scope of this study to the haptic aspects of our senses we can more easily develop laborations (labs) for exploring different haptic experiences as well as drive artistic / design processes that can use tangible physical artifacts. 


We received 70% of the funding we applied for, and have therefore revised our plans in relation to the number of aesthetic laborations, writing seminar and some of the partners involved interaction design.  



The HAPTICA project will be run from the Design program at Konstfack, University College of arts,craftsand design in Stockholm in close collaboration with Campus Grythyttan, School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Science (RHS) at Örebro University (ÖU). The unique academic, multi-disciplinary profile at Campus Grythyttan ÖU has professional and academically merited culinary artists with long experience in the aesthetic gestalt process as well as researchers from the learning & life sciences. Examples of the different disciplines represented in the RHS program are: culinary arts, sensory science, gastronomy, ethnology, anthropology, sociology, business economy, domestic science, nutrition and public health. 


Survey of the field

General theoretical overview: Applied aesthetics and haptics

The definition of Applied Aesthetics builds on Alexander Baumgarten´s definition of aesthetics as the science of sensuous cognition from 1735 (Shusterman 1992/2000, 263-7). The word ’sensuous’ refers to engaging all our senses and ’cognition’ means to know. Akner-Koler  (2007 p. 9-14) defines Applied aesthetics by further developing Baumgarten’s definition as: “science of sensuous cognition through the active gestalt process”. Baumgarten also proposed the need for the fusion of all our senses, which supports embodied learning by one being fully present and engaged in the gestalt/discovery process. A revised visualization model of the fusion of the senses (Akner-Koler, 2007) is presented in figure 1 to illustrate Baumgarten’s concept. The “kinesthetic” sense has a central position in this revised model, since all other senses rely on movement. Compared to other aesthetic disciplines such as architecture, dance, music, product design etc., the culinary arts is the discipline that engages all of our senses in the planning and preparation as well as for the experience of the guest/ user.  


Definition of haptics
Haptic is usually referred to as the sense of touch. Touch involves experiences of texture,temperature 
and vibration, perceived by the nervous system through the skin. As soon as touch includes intentional muscle movement, such as grasping a 3-D volume and sensing its weight, proportions, density & shape, or picking up a tool to use it, we transcend touch and tactility and enter haptics (Lederman, S. & Klatzky, R. (1987). 
Haptic experience is inseparable from both tactile a
nd kinesthetic perception, because it involves muscle movement in relation to materials, objects and space. Through active movement we experience basic level actions and reactions. Lederman, S. & Klatzky, R. (1987) have outlined six haptic, explorative procedures, see figure 2.

Recent research in neuroscience from Umeå University shows empirical evidence about first-order tactile neurons on the human fingertips signaling edge orientation via both the intensity and the temporal structure of their responses. In other words, the fingertips are able to perform touch processing that is similar to the process in the cerebral cortex (Pruszynski, A. & Johnsson, R. 2014). We, therefore ‘think with our hands’. The HAPTICA project will explore areas of haptics that deal with how embodied haptic experiences and sensitivities play a vital part in how we comprehend our situation and act within it. 


Review – Haptics & Neurogastronomy 
An extensive review of the field of haptics was published in 2008 (Grunwald). The review is the first of its kind and shows that the status of haptic experience has been controversial, starting with the Greek philosophers, ranking it both at the top and bottom of the scale of esteem. Haptics became a subject of scientific research in psychological studies on touch in the early nineteen hundreds. It has been of interest to fields such as; physiology, neurology, forced feedback technology, game development, play theory, robotics, interactive design, education, healthcare, therapy etc. However, the review does not bring up how haptics is part of the creative gestalt process for artists, designers, musicians, dancers, culinary artists and other aesthetic disciplines. 
This lack of awareness that artists and designers rely on haptic sensitivities and reasoning, 
is a major reason we feel compelled to study this field. In 2012 the paradigm-shifting book Neurogastronomy was published, laying the foundation for a new scientific field in the sense of smell and flavor. Neurobiologist Gordon Shepherd (2012) explored the spatial patterns of smell that relate to haptic experience in the nasal cavity. His work shows that smell has a direct spatially sensitive pathway to the cerebral cortex, which shortens the time to process properties. He concludes that the particles released when “we eat are so important that they are evaluated quickly at the highest level of the human brain”.    


Culinary projects and new educational platforms         
New Nordic Food (NNF) is a communication program under the Nordic Council of Ministers, that promotes Nordic food in the region and internationally with a long term future-oriented vision from 2010- 2024 (http://www.nynordiskmad.org). The program promotes cooperation with other Nordic creative industries. The manifest from the NEW NORDIC KITCHEN has fueled many of the events in NNF. Here are some of the aims to be reached:  
•  To reflect the changes of the seasons in the meals we make. 
•  To develop potentially new applications of traditional Nordic food products. 

- Master chef competition in Sweden has recently invited Mischa Billing as the first female jury member. BillingisAssociate professor at ÖU and professional taste expert. She is one of the main leaders in this HAPTICA project and has been working with haptic explorative studies in taste combinations. She is one of the most established culinary experts in Sweden with a wide international reputation.

- Design Academy Eindhoven has just started a new design department in <<FoodNon Food>> headed by “eating designer” MarjeVagelzang, who states that there is a “growing demand for creative minds that can focus on these various issues within the subject of food”. Graduates will be able to find work in f
ood industry, in hotel and restaurant service, event design, in retail, the agricultural sector and as experience designers. As mentioned earlier, representatives from Design Academy will be invited to collaborate in HAPTICA project.  

- Cuisine from the inside  
Ferran Adrià from “El Bulli” started a new Madrid Fusión foundation aiming to 
“investigate cuisine from the inside”. The foundation has an open source approach, where chefs are invited to conduct labs. Adrià’s motto is 'Freedom to create' and the kitchen is a flexible space that can support 'brainstorming' events, cinematic experiences as well as offers chefs from all over the world a place to explore culinary experiences together. This foundation marks a great change by questioning the competitive restaurant world. We share El Bulli’s idea of the open collaborative “kitchen”, where labs,films
and discussions can take place. The important difference is in the pedagogical framework and gender awareness, opening the kitchen to a wider audience and in our research ambitions concerning development of the field of haptics.   


- Mobile life 
    Mobile Life is a multi-disciplinary research center at Kista, headed by Kia Höök,    involved in exploring experiential, leisure & playful mobile
interactionsineveryday     activities. They are interested in studying how haptic embodied interfaces can engage us     more freely with technology. Haptic research will give an important alternative to visual     interfaces that demand a high degree of focused attention. Kia Höök & PhD student Elsa     Vaara and other members of Mobile Life research group will be involved in HAPTICA.

Our own current research and development in haptics from NanoForm & Campus Grythyttan


Haptic taster grip 
Taste expert Mischa Billing was a member of the NanoForm project supported by the Swedish Research Council 2009-2012. She conducted a unique h
aptic aesthetic laboration that applied some of the explorative studies developed by Cheryl Akner Koler´s earlier sculptural ‘A-lab’ about exploring haptics and emotions while shaping clay. Billing conceptually recognized that her haptic taster grip involved inhaling and exploring wine and champagne along the membranes of her nasal passage, mouth and airway system. In her first A-lab she set up a lab for all the NanoForm participants to experience this haptic sommelier grip. Prior to the A-lab, Billing also collaborated with a mime artist, pianist, sound artist and choir conductor to express the experience of a unique champagne. The A-lab lead to a performance with the four artists at Lund concert hall in November 2011 during Billing´s Nasal haptic presentation. The development of her A-lab and the concert show how the aesthetic disciplines such as sculpture, sommelier, music and dance, can develop a deeper understanding of the aesthetic gestalt process by collaborating. Billing will continue to develop her haptic sommelier grip through a second A-lab in the HAPTICA project.


Method development: Aesthetic laborations
The m
ethod aesthetic laboration (A-Lab) was a major finding in Akner-Koler´s PhD thesis from 2007, which was further developed in the NanoForm project, see reportage in the VR yearbook 2012. Figure 4 shows a visualization model of how to prepare an A-Lab illustrating an explorative multi-disciplinary lab-session in ten steps. 

Embodiment symposium 
In 2011, Uppsala University, Center for gender research, hosted a scientific Embodiment symposium. Three posters 
on embodiement were presented from Campus Grythyttan: 
1) Lars Eriksson´s project MER (funded by KK foundation) showed that an aesthetic provocative approach had an overall effect of sharpening concentration and evoking the curiosity of the participants in both aesthetic labs 
and sensoric labs. 
2) Annika Göran-Rodell and Tobias Nygren presented the poster Touched by Hospitality showing the further development of an aesthetic leadership approach 
(U-theory). Their work presented practical, embodied ways to engage participants in developing social haptic awareness. 
3) Cheryl Akner-K
oler presented the results of the A-Lab Meditated touch from the NanoForm project. 


Sensory Science
Culinary sensory science has been a natural part in the research and educational program at Campus Grythyttansinceits was established in 2004. Professor Åsa Öström researches sensory science and she will support our aesthetic haptic research by applying and questioning some sensory science methods with the intent to further develop them. Sensory science transfers subjective aesthetic values into qualitative data to analyze results from taster panels. Although sensory science includes human perception from the five senses, it has been primarily concerned with taste concerning foods and beverages. Through the HAPTICA p
roject Åsa is interested in further developing the sensory sciences methods by giving more focus to haptic sensation.  


Sensitizing labs and Haptic vibration   
Researcher Parivash Ranjbar and Cheryl Akner-K
oler have been collaborating in haptic research projects that develop haptic aids for persons with deafblindness (DB). They have combined a unique sensitizing lab in an educational context at Konstfack that combines material tactile attributes with vibro-tactile interaction. Ranjbar’s research is based at Örebro University Hospital & Örebro University, Campus Alfred Nobel, MSRC Research Center, Karlskoga doing research in transfering audio signals to haptic vibrations for environmental orientation for deaf-blind people and instructors. Ranjbar participates in the HAPTICA project. 



Project description


We plan to drive the HAPTICA project through an innovative management approach.
The main activities revolve around haptic aesthetic laborations (A-Labs) and design processes that are driven by the leaders and core member. These labs will be held in a lunch-to-lunch program, where the lunch experiences and pauses will also have direct relevance for the A-lab. The leaders will be given support before and after the A-labs to develop a strategic professional research network that will help bridge the results from the A-labs over to the design process. The project ends with a culinary cultural event, that will manifest the methods and concepts developed in the project. The event 
aims to createa public awareness for the need to conduct research in the culinary arts in Sweden. 


Project plan
Figure 3 shows a brief overview of the project plan
•        6 period with a total of 6 A-Labs run by each leader/ core member with 12- 20 participant in A-Lab

•      The strategic network & media seminars and feedback method are integrated in the design process with experts to support the process. 
•      Publications; support for writing scientific articles will occur in three blocks involving all the leaders and core members. 
•      A 
sensoric lab will be run in jan- mar 2017 involving 12- 20 participants. 
•      The evaluation events for the interested public will involve all of the leaders and core member as well as many of the A-Lab participants. Experts will be called in to help plan the event. 
•       The project ends with discussing plans for the future. 

Fig. 3 Overview of project plan. 


Haptic Aesthetic Laboration (A-Lab) “lab session”
The method Aesthetic Laboration (Akner-Koler 2007) will be further developed in the HAPTICA project. The Swedishwordlaboration means to perform experimental work in a laboratory with a detailed agenda. By adopting, anglicizing and combining the term l
aboration with the term aesthetic the meaning is shifted to support explorative methods in artistic research. It is defined as a concept for aesthetic driven  “lab session”, that encourage spontaneous and immediate reactions between lab partners. The method is rooted in artistic culture and a cooperative inquiry method that engages participants as co-researchers (Reason 2003). An A-Lab starts by appointing a lab leader, who chooses a theme, problem or question to explore. To enhance participation, a transforming physical phenomenon is chosen that in some way manifests qualities that relate to the theme. An example could be the kneading and raising process of sour dough bread in relation to the theme temporality. If the lab leader does not have the expertise needed to conduct the lab, then an expert is invited to support the A-Lab. The crucial aspect of creating an A-Lab is that it does not have a strict agenda; there must be enough flexibility to allow and encourage playfulness. A “core support team” made up of trusted and creative colleagues is invited in to test out the phenomena and help to work out possible lab setup with tools, materials and space for activities & dialogue. The outline for a program is gradually drafted explaining how the lab is run and the layout for the lab setup, with tools and materials for all of the participants. Most A-Labs take about 2-4 hours. Each lab is set up in different ways depending on the intentions of the lab leader and the materials & tools. A stimulating studio space is chosen that supports the activities. The studio is booked in advance to ensure most participants can come. An A-lab should always encourage working in collaboration and can include 12-20 participants. Working in groups of 2-4 participants is recommended. The participants in a group can be assigned different roles such as filming, guiding and operating/ acting. The participants should be chosen to offer different perspectives. It is smart to chose people from different disciplines, backgrounds, culture and ages 
Figure 4. Ten phases to prepare for an A-Lab. (Akner Koler 2007). 

Strategy network, co-creative design process and feedback method 
A strategic meeting will directly follow each A-Lab to support the intentions of the lab leader. These meetings involve a smaller group of invited advisors, some of whom were engaged in the A-lab. The purpose is to create a research network
forprofessional & academic development of haptic knowledge with designers and culinary artists at the center. The strategy network aims to build on the A-labs experience by driving a design process lead by the A-lab leader with support of designers. The design process will be run in collaboration with a culinary business so we can receive feedback as the process develops. Focus on creating tangible prototypes so we can support co-creative processes by physically testing ideas to negotiate meaning. The prototypes can explore an array of haptic properties from tactile texture to high-tech haptic interaction technology. Our collaboration with Mobile Life offers expertise in the area haptic technology. By creating a strategic network of advisors and designers suited for the needs of each A-Lab leader, we aim to strengthen a co-creative design process. A creative and critical feedback method will be integrated in the design process. The feedback method catalyzes the members of the strategy network to formulate their unique perspective and in this way stabilize the evolving design process by creating a diverse and open forum for continual feedback as the process develops (see links).


Website & Media documentation
A project website will be set up to help manage the project, share media materials between participants and communicate with the public. Publishing video films for internal use as well as public use will be prioritized. We will use both self-recorded videos in low resolution and professionally recorded videos in high resolution (HD). Co-editing methods rooted in a designer/user-based approach will be used as well as an artistic aesthetic-based approach. The videos are developed and produced to support the management of the project so different events can be re-experienced to learn about how participants interacted. By publishing videos in sequences of short films (2-3
min) we can maintain an open source archive for the participants and guests, accessible on the website.  

Pedagogically framed research
The HAPTICA project willsupport 
pedagogially framed research (Akner-Koler 2007 p. 54) in three ways: 1) Support professionally experienced teachers in the culinary arts/ events at Campus Grythyttan to develop new haptic knowledge, 2) Engage students in some key aspects to further develop and spread this emerging haptic discipline, 3) Engage creative industry in research networks to support teachers at Campus Grythyttan and maintain their international position. 


Culinary Cultural Event 
The results will be formulated in scientific articles & posters to be presented in scientific conferences. However, the main evaluation method will be in creating a culinary research event that engages guests
infirst hand experiences of the professional culinary, haptic knowledge interlaced with academic research. The inspiration for this culinary event came from earlier Finnish Hel Yes event at Eric Ericson Hallen 2012. This event brought together multi-professional internationally famous Finnish culinary artists, graphic artists, musicians, singers, designers and a dance company, to create an event to celebrate Helsinki as the design capital. The HAPTICA project will engage the core partners, A-lab leaders and as many participants as possible to contribute to the development of the event. During the 
3-year project continual support will be given to the A-lab leaders to integrate the results from their A-Labs into the staging, serving and performance program for this event. An open studio method will be used to organize the project in preparation for the culinary event.


Expected Results 

Method development
The following methods will be developed: 1) Further develop the aesthetic lab method through better documentation of the method in use. 2) Methods for bridging the design process to these labs will be visualized and documented. 3) Feedback methods to support an open constructive engagement of the strategy network. 4) Pedagogically framed research methods to support the leaders and core members to develop teaching material from their experience in the HAPTICA project.  5) Intra-disciplinary collaboration methods for developing the field of applied aesthetics. 

Results of the used methods
The design solutions will be the most valuable results because they will be 
developed within a co-creative process where the culinary professional arts lead the process. Teaching material in the form of visualization models, terminology, laborative methods, and design process can also be introduced as new pedagogic tools for teaching. 

The significance of the HAPTICA project lies in: 
•    Offering insight into the complexity of human haptic perception through following artistic researcher study how haptics can drive the aesthetic gestalt process. 
•    Exploring ways to bridge touch pathways on our fingertips and through the hands with haptic experience of smell and taste pathways through our nose and mouth.  
•    Expanding the field of embodied interaction by given attention to our sense of smell and taste and how other senses interact with them.  
•    Showing how the field of Artistic Research, could offer an academic base for the multidisciplinary 
field of haptics because art and design can deal with pluralistic method development and uses the body as a key research tool.