CALL FOR PAPERS DISEÑA # 20: Design and Somatic Sensibilities



In his Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty (1962) made a radical claim, stating that we are our bodies and that subjective experiences cannot be separated from our objective reality. Our somatic sensibilities − shaped by subjective experience − make us who we are. Additionally, Gendlin (1980) claimed that our imagination is bodily and that our bodies are interactional, influencing how we relate in a world of possibilities. For this special issue of Diseña, we acknowledge that subjective somatic differences are pivotal in the process of meaning-making, therefore, shaping the design process and outcomes (Loke & Schiphorst, 2018). 

Although in the last decade we have seen a growing interest in the fields of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interaction Design to examine the lived body and felt somatic experiences as the starting point for the design of interactive systems, this experiential perspective still remains relatively underrepresented (Höök, 2018). With the rise of COVID 19, our bodies have stayed enclosed in their private spaces, affecting every dimension of our lives in ways we were not able to predict before. As academics, we have also witnessed how it has impacted design research and pedagogy, sacrificing an essential part of the experiential − therefore embodied − dimension of design making. Immersed in an increasingly digitalized and data-centric world, research projects centering on the sensory, embodied, and material reality of our experience, might start losing momentum. However, we also believe these difficulties could open up the door for new opportunities to make more prevalent the importance of embodied and somatic practices in design and HCI.

Methods based on somatic knowledge have mostly been developed outside the academic domain, ranging from dance, performance, role-playing, and other various body-based practices (Loke & Schiphorst, 2018). These have influenced the emergence of a myriad of methods, such as bodystorming (Schleicher et al., 2010), experience prototyping (Buchenau & Suri, 2000), embodied sketches (Márquez Segura et al., 2016), moving and making strange (Loke & Robertson, 2013), focusing applied to design (Núñez-Pacheco & Loke, 2018), and so on. Influenced by somatics, somaesthetics, and aesthetic pragmatism, the Somaesthetic Design Project at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden KTH (Höök et al., 2015) has brought a series of design projects that acknowledge the importance of the lived body, ranging from women’s health (Balaam et al., 2020; Campo Woytuk et al., 2020), ideation artifacts or Soma Bits (Windlin et al., 2019), a somatic approach to data (Alfaras et al., 2020; Tsaknaki et al., 2020) and problematizing on the politics of designing with the soma (Höök et al., 2019).

The recognition of methods and perspectives centering on the body and somatic knowledge have the following advantages: (1) the systematic use of embodied attention and the articulation of experiential qualities can help designers to envision more meaningful interactive experiences, promoting empathy towards others (Höök, 2018). (2) Somatic-oriented practices can also help interaction designers towards a more detailed and committed transmission of knowledge for design (Schiphorst, 2011). In this respect, designers would be trained not only to craft objects but also to recognize the nuances of human embodied experience they are designing for (Schiphorst, 2011). (3) Finally, a focus on other senses beyond the visual, which has been predominant in the discipline of interaction design, can scaffold the emergence of discoveries and insights and might even enable the design of more complex, accessible, and multifaceted experiences involving the whole body and emotions (Lupton & Lipps, 2018). 

This special issue, titled Design and Somatic Sensibilities, aims to gather articles from a broad perspective highlighting the role of the body in HCI and Interaction Design, addressing issues such as (but not limited to):

●      Soma design: Explorations, methods, techniques, and theoretical contributions.

●      First-person perspectives in design and the role of somatic engagements in the generation of knowledge.

●      Design and feminism: Feminist epistemologies and design approaches that highlight an expanded understanding of the notion of the body.

●      Underrepresented somatic sensibilities, intimacies, and embodiments in design.

●      Design for movement and interaction with a focus on somatic and felt experience

●      Speculative design and sentient human bodies. 

●      Transferability of somatic experience, from subjective to collective.

●      Biodata explored and materialized as experiential, sensory information. 


ALFARAS, M., TSAKNAKI, V., SANCHES, P., WINDLIN, C., UMAIR, M., SAS, C., & HÖÖK, K. (2020). From Biodata to Somadata. Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery, Article 555.

BALAAM, M., WOYTUK, N. C., FELICE, M. C., AFSAR, O. K., STÅHL, A., & SØNDERGAARD, M. L. J. (2020). Intimate Touch. Interactions, 27(6), 14–17.

BUCHENAU, M., & SURI, J. F. (2000). Experience prototyping. Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods, and Techniques. Association for Computing Machinery, 424–433.

CAMPO WOYTUK, N., SØNDERGAARD, M. L. J., CIOLFI FELICE, M., & BALAAM, M. (2020). Touching and Being in Touch with the Menstruating Body. Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery, Article 344.

GENDLIN, E. T. (1980). Imagery is More Powerful with Focusing: Theory and Practice. In J. E. Shorr, G. E. Sobel, P. Robin, & J. A. Connella (Eds.), Imagery: Its Many Dimensions and Applications (pp. 65–73). Springer.

HÖÖK, K. (2018). Designing with the Body: Somaesthetic Interaction Design. The MIT Press.

HÖÖK, K., ERIKSSON, S., LOUISE JUUL SØNDERGAARD, M., CIOLFI FELICE, M., CAMPO WOYTUK, N., KILIC AFSAR, O., TSAKNAKI, V., & STÅHL, A. (2019). Soma Design and Politics of the Body. Proceedings of the Halfway to the Future Symposium 2019. Association for Computing Machinery, Article 1.

HÖÖK, K., STÅHL, A., JONSSON, M., MERCURIO, J., KARLSSON, A., & JOHNSON, E.-C. B. (2015). Somaesthetic Design. Interactions22(4), 26–33.

LOKE, L., & ROBERTSON, T. (2013). Moving and Making Strange: An Embodied Approach to Movement-Based Interaction Design. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 20(1), Article 7.

LOKE, L., & SCHIPHORST, T. (2018). The Somatic Turn in Human-Computer Interaction. Interactions, 25(5), 54–5863.

LUPTON, E., & LIPPS, A. (Eds.). (2018). The Senses: Design Beyond Vision. Chronicle Books.

MÁRQUEZ SEGURA, E., TURMO VIDAL, L., ROSTAMI, A., & WAERN, A. (2016). Embodied Sketching. Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery, 6014–6027.

MERLEAU-PONTY, M. (1962). Phenomenology of Perception (C. Smith, Trans.). Routledge; Kegan Paul.

NÚÑEZ-PACHECO, C., & LOKE, L. (2018). Towards a Technique for Articulating Aesthetic Experiences in Design using Focusing and the Felt Sense. The Design Journal, 21(4), 583–603.

SCHIPHORST, T. (2011). Self-evidence: Applying Somatic Connoisseurship to Experience Design. CHI ’11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery, 145–160. 

SCHLEICHER, D., JONES, P., & KACHUR, O. (2010). Bodystorming as Embodied Designing. Interactions17(6), 47–51.

TSAKNAKI, V., JENKINS, T., BOER, L., HOMEWOOD, S., HOWELL, N., & SANCHES, P. (2020). Challenges and Opportunities for Designing with Biodata as Material. Proceedings of the 11th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Shaping Experiences, Shaping Society. Association for Computing Machinery, Article 122.

WINDLIN, C., STÅHL, A., SANCHES, P., TSAKNA-KI, V., KARPASHEVICH, P., BALAAM, M.-L., & HÖÖK, K. (2019). Soma Bits -Mediating Technology to Orchestrate Bodily Experiences. Proceedings of the 4th Biennial Research through Design Conference 2019. Article 25.



Please submit your manuscript in by May 2, 2021, for peer-review. Please read the instructions for the authors.

The submission includes:

–   A manuscript of 3,500 – 4,000 words, with references in APA Style.

N.B. the text should be anonymized for blind peer-review. Please, upload Word documents (not PDF). 

–   An abstract of 140 words  max.

–   Five keywords

–   Author biographies of 150 words max.

After  peer-review, corrections  will  need  to  take  place  in  July  2021. 

The  issue  will  be published in January 2022.————————– 


Diseña is a peer-reviewed, biannual, and bilingual publication by the Escuela de Diseño of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Diseña promotes research in all areas of Design. Its specific aim is to promote critical thought about methodologies, methods, practices, and tools of research and project work.

Image source: Soma Bits –

Guest editors

Claudia Núñez-Pacheco | KTH Royal Institute of Technology |

Marianela Ciolfi Felice | KTH Royal Institute of Technology |

Vasiliki Tsaknaki | IT University of Copenhagen |


Submission deadline: May 2, 2021