The Magic Touch

Leading psychologist Kate Nightingale discusses the sense of touch

Fusion Champagne

After a long day at work, imagine coming back to your cosy home, taking off your stiff, uncomfy shoes and putting your hands around a large mug of hot chocolate as you snuggle down on the sofa. All of these actions, in as little as 15 minutes, can affect us in thousands of different ways. We often think of the sense of touch as being pleasant and functional, but not especially important. Or perhaps, we’ve just never thought of it that way.

As part of our sensory blog series we have asked consumer psychologist Kate Nightingale to discuss the role of touch and the role sensory aspects of a design can have in making people more sociable, evoke excitement or relaxation and even improving people’s brain power.

“The sense of touch is particularly important for humans. There is ample scientific evidence for the importance of human-to-human touch for physical health and it is well documented that petting a dog or cat can uplift mood. Yet in the current technology-run world, we increasingly spend less face to face time with people which is replaced with more time spent online. This negatively impacts not only our mental, but physical well-being.

“The kitchen has always been a social place. You eat breakfast in there with your family, drink an afternoon coffee with your partner or have a drink with a friend while cooking dinner. However, the trick is to design your kitchen in a way that it fosters close and satisfactory social interactions with your friends and family, yet at the same time makes you feel comfortable and relaxed.

“Textures and temperature are especially useful for doing just that and any textures resembling wood, wool or simply looking warm (e.g. warm colours) can have a positive effect on how relaxed you feel in a space. Wooden worktops are a good way to achieve this in your kitchen.

“What you might not know is that what you touch can impact on your interactions with other people. Studies show us that if we hold a warm drink in our hand, we perceive people as more friendly and approachable and behave in such a way, which leads to more intimate conversations.

Any smooth textures suggest that the interpersonal interaction should be quite easy, so we subconsciously oblige and guide the conversation accordingly. Anything that feels or even looks soft can further enhance your interpersonal relationships by bringing you closer to people, as it makes everyone feel cosy and emotionally safe.”

If you therefore want your kitchen to be social, focus on warm colours and soft and smooth surfaces. Great examples are woods or wood-like surfaces and smooth matt finishes for cabinets, such as the Fusion Champagne.

Tags: Kitchen, Designs