Sensorial Experiment

As part of my thesis research, I've performed a sensorial test with a group of five people. This experiment was made with the intent of understanding preferences and reactions to the textures I had designed. Four different textures were made out of clay for this experiment. The users were asked to describe what they were feeling and what words popped into their minds as they interacted with the pieces.

During this interaction, the participants used many words related to nature, animals and landscape to describe the textures. The different types of bumps were noticed and the preference was for textures that allow the hand to flow easily, like the "wavy" texture. Textures that, at first glance, seemed more "aggressive" were surprisingly well accepted once the user started interacting with them, being described as fun and good for squeezing and scratching. 

At the end of each session the participants were asked to give a name to each texture pebble. Some names were repeated by the users, such as boomerang wave and sunflower.

As a result of this experiment, I have learned the importance of the flow of each texture, visually and physically. I was able to observe hand movements and the interaction with the different surfaces.

For the next sensorial test I would like to explore different scales and combinations of textures using both sides of the pebbles.

Thank you to those who helped me with this sensorial test :)

Notification Buddies

The Notification Buddies is a series of glass figures that were conceptually designed during my Glass elective at RIT.  The concept behind these buddies is that they are able to "sense" that a close friend is sending a message and alerts you with light patterns. The buddies are able to filter incoming messages from your phone and only lets you know of the ones that most matter.

The Buddies are connected to an app that allows the user to filter notifications by creating groups of people.

Each time someone special sends a message, The Notification Buddy  will shine and bring color to it's surroundings.  The user can also link colors to each friend for easier identification. 


The Notification Buddies were hand crafted individually, and each one has a different personality. 


The bodies and heads were crafted in the hot shop, using solid glass to build the  basic shapes. Details such as ears and eyes were carefully designed using flame worked glass. 

Falling in Love <3

Attachment is a feeling of affection, usually for a person but sometimes for an object or even for an institution such as a school or corporation.
— Love + Sex With Robots - David Levy
As an owner uses an object and interacts with it more and more over time, so this personal attention applied to the object endows it with a special meaning for the owner.
— Love + Sex With Robots - David Levy
As the owner invest more “psychic energy” in an object, more meaning is attached to the object, it becomes more important to its owner, and the stronger is the attachment that the owner feels for the object.”
— Love + Sex With Robots - David levy
PSYCHIC ENERGY - Mental energy or psychic energy is a concept in some psychological theories or models of a postulated unconscious mental functioning on a level between biology and consciousness.
— Wikipedia

Sensorial Couch

The Sensorial Couch is conceptual smart couch developed to morph according to the user's activities, exploring their senses through the use of vibration patters, lights, smell and sounds. In order to enhance the sensorial experience, the Sensorial Couch is connected to the internet, and according the the user's activities it filters virtual interactions.  

The Couch has  3 set up modes: Social, Chill and Don't bug me.

Social Mode

The Social mode was designed for activities where the user is available for interactions, in the real and as well as in the virtual world. The couch is set up in a "open" format witch allows the users to look around and interact with their surroundings. In this mode the couch is programed to receive notifications from the internet at anytime, allowing the user to be fully connected.


Chill Mode

The Chill mode is appropriate for  times where the user just wants sit back, relax and enjoy the moment, but does not want to be totally disconnected from the world. The couch expands it's back, giving the user a grater sense of comfort and privacy without totally enclosing him from the environment. The virtual interactions will be limited to only important notifications, allowing the user to have time to take a brake from the world without missing any important messages.


Don't bug me

The Don't bug me mode is designed to bring total privacy to the user. For those times where it is needed to "escape from the world", even if it is only for a few minutes. The couch completely encloses the user, and invites them for a amazing sensorial experience with no disturbance form the physical surroundings as well as virtual.


You need to find a way to bring your body into your work. our nerves aren’t a one-way street -our bodies can tell our brains as much as our brain tell our bodies. You know that phrase, “going through the motions?”That’s what’s so great about creative work: If we just start going through the motions, if we strum a guitar, or shuffle sticky notes around a conference table, or start kneading clay, the motion kickstarts our brain into thinking.
I have Started a long enough at the glowing flat rectangles of computer screens. let us give more tome for doing things in the real world...plant a plant, walk the dogs, read a real book, go to the opera
— Edward Tufte

Humans and tools

2001 space odyssey

2001 space odyssey

Since our ancestors, we have been using tools as extensions of our bodies, expanding our capabilities and enabling us to interact with the world. When in use, these tools become part of our body and we no longer have the distinction of where the body starts and ends. It's with the use of tools we have designed that mankind evolved to be in this technological world where devices are enabling us to enhance our capabilities even more.

Technology has started to expand the body’s sensorial capacities and has become a new invisible prothesis of human body that connect it with the entire world.
— Seçil Uğur

With the use of tools such as smartphones, tablets and computers, we now have easy access to information and people around the world. At the palm of our hands, we have the capability to reach friends at any time, anywhere, as well as being updated about news, weather, work and its also a great source of entertainment too!

 We are all connected thought the use of the internet, and it's great. But are we using this awesome technology in the most beneficial way?

It's easy to get distracted with the amount of cool information that technology brings and we often forget to look at the world around us. Our devices are creating a "bubble" around us that separates us from the real world, making us imerge in a virtual world confined to a flat glass screen.

It's also important to notice the way our devices were designed to function, and the side-effects that they bring to our bodies. More and more we are curving ourselves to immerse in this wonderful virtual world but we often don't realize the potential harm it mite be causing.


Our senses are also not being fully stimulated too. We can get a good sense of visuals and sounds, but there are a lot more senses to explore. Our bodies are able to react to many different sensory stimulus such as smells, touch or even balance.  What if we could feel more intensely this virtual world?


My Thesis Journey :)


So fall semester is here, and it's time to start my thesis journey! Yay :)

I will start using this Blog to document all of my progress throughout the semester. I will share all the cool research I'll be doing as well as pictures and videos of the fun experiments.

But people often ask: What is your thesis about?

How to even start to answer that!?

Well, a lot of cool ideas are now popping in to my head. Im very interested in studying the relationship between humans and their daily devices, such as smartphone, tablets, computers and also smart homes. Im curious to envision how will that interaction be in a near future. I dream about a future where our houses and objects will communicate with us in a friendly manner, helping us go through our daily activities in a fun and enjoyable way. For example, imagine getting home from work and your house sets up a meditation mood, with relaxing colors, scents and cool patterns to set the relaxing atmosphere. Or maybe you would be in the mood to exercise and a personal teacher would guide you through some ballet exercises, or yoga :) 

Another important subject that I want to explore is emotional design. How could my design help stimulate the user's senses in various ways, using colors, textures, aromas and sounds? And last but not least, how to build a long lasting relationship between the user and the object (or system)?

All these ideas are still in a very early stage and will evolve from these initial thoughts. Soon I will start experimenting with physical objects, trying to simulate all these ideas to see where it will all lead.

Please feel free to give your feedback on the subject, it will be fun :)


Pogo Seat :)

So the  Pogo Seat mockup number 1 broke!!! :P

oohhh no!!

No worries, that was great to find out the weak points and also to study the stability and safety of the product. So instead of one ball, why not try two? :)

made this sweet model inspired by a skateboard :)

and then a big one to try it out (my favorite part!).

much more stable and still very fun to bounce.

To make the design more ergonomic and easy to use, I decided to curve the top surface. I bended plywood using a vacuum bag. That was cool :)

and tada!!


We already made some testings and it was fun!! I'll post some videos to show it moving :))


Whistle to Me


In this post I will show the process of a very sweet project that I worked this semester. This project was developed during the Design Lab class here at RIT, with professor Josh Owen. During the semester we worked together with students from the Sculpture department and it was amazing! I was able to learn all about the metal casting process. Check out the process and the project statement below. Hope you like it :)



Inspired by the movement of a whistling mouth, Whistle to Me is a cell phone shell designed to create an emotional relationship between the user and the object. The minimalistic design follows the Vignelli approach and principles, translating the idea of a sweet and gentle whistle into a simple and long lasting form. The technology is hidden inside the shell, creating an interesting acoustic quality due to the thickness of the material. The user is invited to relax and enjoy the pleasant sound that the “lips” of the product whistles.



Pogo Seat Mockup Testing


Im having so much fun with the bounciness of this project! I started by collecting all sorts of bouncy and rubbery materials that I could find. The colors  and textures were inspiring!

Using this selection, I started playing and experimenting with the materials, and made 3 little models with bubble wrap and paper. The models were fun and good to have a sense of scale. 


 After that, I started experimenting real scale mockups, to test bounciness, resistance and materials. The first one is simply a inner tube folded in two directions. The attachment of the folds are held by elastics, allowing the seat to be very flexible. 

Approved by the user!!! :))

The second mockup has its focus on the function of hoping around, just like the Pogo Ball. I cut a piece of scrap wood and made a circular shape that allowed the ball to fit in the middle. Also, this model fits perfectly the size of the feet on the sides. The model was tested, and led to some interesting results. 

Check out the testing videos below to the see  the results!!

Found the week point!!

The next steps of this projects will focus on finding materials that have resistance to support jumps and bounces. Also, I need to explore different ways to attach the ball to the jumping surface, with the concern of  safety and interaction with the user.

More post to come about this fun project :)


Pogo Seat

Hey! Today I will show a little bit about my Pogo Seat project. This project is part of the Form and Function class . The goal of this project is to design a furniture for living rooms, but not a traditional type of furniture, we were assigned to break the rules and rethink the way the activities take place in this environment. Why do we have to sit in sofas, eat on tables and have our tv nicely placed in a tv rack?

Having that thought in mind, I decided to design a furniture that keeps the user's body in movement. I believe that a body in movement keeps your brain in movement too. I have recently brought a yoga ball to class to use as my seat, and i love it. Now I cant sit in a normal chair without missing the bouncy movement of the ball. I started searching for bouncy objects, and what came in my mind was that cool toy from the 80's, the pogo ball!

Inspired by this awesome toy, Im developing my Pogo Chair, the idea is to have a inflatable ball that is attached to a wooden seat. Having this configuration the user can use furniture as a bouncing seat, or step on it and start jumping around.  During my brainstorming sketches I was considering using more than one ball, but ended up deciding to use just one. The reason for that is the flexibility that a single ball gives to the user being able to rotate to all sides easily. 

I have made a quick mockup to have a feeling of the  actual size. I used foam to represent the structure and a balloon to simulate the bouncy ball. To attach the ball to the foam I used a string to tie them together. The way it was attached was very interesting because it shows the user the way the furniture is built, and that concept I will bring to the final piece. 

This project is still in development, I will start testing with the final materials in the following weeks. As soon as I have developed more I will continue the post. Cant wait to hop around with this bouncy furniture. If you have any feedback on the project, or any suggestions feel free to comment below, I would love to see your opinion. 



Welcome to my blog! Im Mariana Pinheiro and I came from Brazil to study Industrial Design at Rochester Institute of technology. Im a first year graduate student and im taking so many cool classes there, that I decided to share a little bit about my experience and projects. Feel free to share your opinion and interact with me in this blog, it will be fun :)

My first post will be a pic of my desk taken today! Origami and balloons are now in my list of favorite inspirations.