Talking FurnitureSocial Interaction Through the Use of Anthropomorphic Furniture A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the Furniture design in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts in Furniture Design at Savannah College of Art and Design by Kai-ning Huang Savannah, GA © May 2014 Sheila Edwards George Perez John Pierson Table of Contents 1. List of Figures ``` 01 2. Abstract . 03 3. Introduction ` 04 4. Statement of influence ` `` 07 5. Social Interaction A. Definition of social interaction 12 B. Human as social being . 12 C. The change of interaction 14 D. Examples of interaction furniture design 17 6. Anthropomorphism A. Define anthropomorphism 21 B. History of anthropomorphism on furniture ..22 C. Examples of anthropomorphic products/films in the 21st century ` ```25 7. Relationship between human and anthropomorphic objects A. Why people anthropomorphize `` B. Ways to anthropomorphize- Examples I. Anthropomorphic form II. Symbol 26 ` 28 ` ..28 ` III. Movement ` 30 ` ..31 IV. Faces/ Expression .`33 C. Conclusion of the example in anthropomorphic products ```34 8. Design `` ````35 A. Bird Bench `.37 B. Dancing Stools `.38 C. Mushroom Side Table 9. Discussion and conclusion 10. Work Cited .` `40 `42 ```45 1 List of Figures Figure 3.1 Juicy Salif by Philippe Starck ``` 07 Figure 3.2 Figure 1. Bambi by Disney 1942 `` Figure 3.3 Liam Gillick, Discussion Bench Platform `````````08 Figure 3.4 Artwork by Liam Gillick at Frieze art fair ``` ` `08 ` `15 Figure 4.1 mmmm…, Meeting Bowl Figure 4.2 Rebar, Bushwaffle `07 ```` ``15 Figure 4.3 Neulhae Cho, Swingers ``15 Figure 4.4 Ear chair by Studio MAkkink & Bey `16 Figure 4.5 oOf Box by George Liarikos ``` ``16 Figure 4.6 HUSH by Freyja Sewell ` Figure 5.1 40,000 years old: Lion Mansculpture ```17 ````20 Figure 5.2 Anthropomorphic vessels ``` Figure 5.3 Egypt duck stool ``` `21 ````` ` `` `21 `` `22 Figure 5.4 Baw and claw legs Figure 5.5 Alessi products 23 Figure 5.6 Puppy chair by Eero Aarnio ` ` 23 Figure 5.7 Pony Chair by Eero Aarnio ` ````23 Figure 6.1 A Bug’s life ``24 Figure 6.2 Seal robot Paro ``` Figure 6.3 UP5 UP6 by Gaetano Pesce Figure 6.4 Ponies by Eero Aarnio ` `25 ````` ` `26 ````````27 Figure 6.5 Bambi chairs by Takeshi Sawada ` `28 Figure 6.6 Rabbit ear chair by Kazuyo Sejima and Rye Nishizawa ` ``28 Figure 6.7 Rabbit Chair by Merve Kahraman `` Figure 6.8 The Walking Cabinet by Markus Johansson Design studio Figure 6.9, 6.10, 6.11. Jake Cress’s anthropomorphic furniture Figure 6.12 M Angelo Arnold’s furniture sculptures Figure 6.13 tree, rock and cloud with faces Figure 6.14 hardware, car, and furniture with faces Figure 7.1 Bird Bench design rendering `` 28 `29 `` ` `29 ` `` ````30 ` `` 31 ` `32 ``` ` 35 2 Figure 7.2 Bird Bench design physical work 1 ` 36 Figure 7.3 Bird Bench design physical work 2 ` 36 Figure 7.4 Dancing Stools design rendering ` 37 Figure 7.5 Dancing Stools physical work 1 ` `37 Figure 7.6 Dancing Stools physical work 2 `` 37 Figure 7.7 Mushroom Side Table Design Rendering `38 Figure 7.8 Mushroom Side Table Design Rendering 2 38 Figure 7.9 Mushroom Side Table physical work 1 ``39 Figure 7.10 Mushroom Side Table physical work 2 ``39 Figure 8.1 Five to One thesis show 41 Figure 8.2 Five to One thesis show, guests interactions with Bird Bench and Dancing Stools Figure 8.3 Five to One thesis show, guests interaction with Mushroom Side Table ` `42 `42 3 Abstract Talking FurnitureSocial Interaction Through the Use of Anthropomorphic Furniture Kai-ning Huang May 2014 This thesis seeks to examine the history of how people communicate and discuss the importance of human communication. With advancements in technology, human social interaction has changed with the access and speed of the internet. People become isolated and less willing to spend time in face to face interactions. With the way technology has influenced us, furniture design has also shifted its function and usage into more private spaces for people to feel comfortable while working or relaxing. However, this is just another thing that separates people from each other. This thesis uses anthropomorphic characteristics in order to design approachable public furniture to encourage interaction between people. By examining the evolution of using anthropomorphism in human’s lives, this thesis will introduce different experiences of people interacting with the furniture pieces and with each other. 4 Introduction It is said that what you buy, what you wear and what you use represents who you are. The reaction to things we encounter every day is a form of communication. As humans, this is how we interact and distinguish our personalities. For example, we choose to listen to a certain type of music based on our mood, hang out with a certain type of people based on our interests or even pick a certain type of clothing which shows our taste. We learn to form our personalities by the experiences we have. There are many other ways to communicate with others. With words, body language, and facial expressions we can tell what others are trying to say or what they feel. By interacting with others we form social activities, in which we share things, care for and help each other when needed. Connecting with others requires time spent and investments. However, things have changed since digital technology has become a large part of our everyday lives. With technology, we experience life faster and differently. The internet saves us a lot of time by allowing us to send emails and receive responses and information immediately. In addition, with the current variety of social networks, we are able to catch up with each other by simply reading people’s status updates on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter or by looking at the pictures they post. The advantage is that we get to feel connected all the time to so many people, even if they are all the way across the country. Nevertheless, many argue that technology has taken away precious moments people used to have. With everything happening so fast, it becomes hard for us to concentrate, whether with conversation or work. Also, with the feeling of connecting online, we become lazy about spending time with people face to face. Research from the University of North Carolina indicates that people need those micro-moments which mean positive emotions to maintain relationships and physical presence (Smith). Therefore, technology may be making people lonelier. To solve the problem of being lonely, robots have become a popular subject for design. 5 There are a few toy robots in the market which serve as playmates for children to play with and take care of. Studies have looked at how people respond to robots and observe children’s understanding of these machines that seem alive. Other more advanced robots are also being researched in labs and big companies so one day they can be there for us or take care of us. The robots are usually designed with animal or human characteristics, whose familiar characteristics help people feel comfortable to approach them. The way the robots look and act evoke human compassion; we feel as if they are alive and have feelings like we do. Yet people are still arguing whether interactions with robots can replace interpersonal interactions. After all, no matter how they seem to understand what we say, robots are just machines. Robots are a direct way of providing interaction and company for humans. As for furniture design, there are examples of pieces designed for social interaction. They are mostly public furniture placed in the middle of an urban city for people to experience a different way to hang out in public. The furniture provides a place for people to sit together or lay down beside each other; they give people the opportunity to get closer to others around them, have fun, relax and interact a little. People enjoy the new and interesting way of interacting through public furniture. However, my thesis will add another characteristic which is my design criteria for the encouragement of interaction. In order to make us feel comfortable having robots around, anthropomorphism becomes an important part of interactive design. Anthropomorphism is explained as placing human characteristics on non-living objects. It is also the feeling that we apply to things around us, the compassion of thinking or treating them as if they’re alive. For example, children treat their stuffed animals like friends. We interpret what our pets are thinking, or how products with faces make us feel as if they were trying to express themselves. Anthropomorphism applies human or animal forms to an object and a robot is mostly made into human forms or animal forms so that 6 people will understand its function. However, anthropomorphism is not just imitating the forms; sometimes it is to use its cuteness, expressions, or movements to trigger our emotional feelings, such as characters created by Disney ® . These are characters or objects that should not be alive, but with the liveliness people give them, they become anthropomorphic characters that make us love them or become attracted to them. The same compassion is given to objects we use every day; the appearances and the emotional feelings we give them make us want to interact with them. In this thesis, I will be introducing this human tendency dating back from ancient times along with more recent studies of existing anthropomorphic products or furniture. Anthropomorphizing, which is explained as animating the inanimate, is a characteristic that can be seen since throughout history which I believe can be a vehicle to encourage human social interactions. After all, the main goal is to interact with humans in person, not with robots or with people behind screens. This thesis will prove that even with the distraction of technology, people are still attracted to things around them which they have emotional feelings to, and this could possibly leads to interaction with other people. This thesis will apply anthropomorphic characteristics to public furniture as a way to offer opportunities for people to participate and promote interaction with each other. 7 Statement of Influence Furniture can be something personal; it can also be something that brings people together. Most furniture is designed to focus on ergonomics, styles and comfort. However, most furniture doesn’t necessarily include encouragement for interaction. There are different kinds of interactions: it can be interaction between people and furniture, or it can be interaction between people. In my point of view, furniture should have purpose beyond sitting comfortably; it should also help improve human relationships. Furniture is the same as people’s other possessions. The furniture you choose represents who you are; it shows your personality. It affects how you interact with the piece and how you keep it. As a result, I believe furniture can also influence how people deal with their relationships with others. In Emotional Design (2004), Donald Norman provides a new point of view for looking at things; he writes “Everything has a personality: everything sends an emotional signal. Even where this was not the intention of the designer, the people who view the website infer personalities and experience emotions.” Before reading his book, I focused my design more on function and whether the purpose of the product has met the need of the project. I didn’t realize that how a design makes people feel and how it affects people’s feelings are also important considerations. Norman gave an example of tea pots that look pretty but didn’t work. (Norman, 3) Despite their lack of utility they are still pleasant objects for the owners to keep and see. In addition, Norman mentions the stages of emotional feelings to the products. These are: the feelings we have when seeing the product, using the product and after using the product which leads to the meaning and attachment towards it. (Norman, 5-6) These elements become important in my design since the experience of using something can affect whether a user will come back to it or step away forever. Humans have feelings. We form relationships easily with objects, people or animals we 8 deal with every day. We learn from having these emotional attachments and they shape who we are and how we interact with people in our lives. The ability to apply feelings to objects and other living beings is a precious characteristic of human beings. We talk to our pets like we talk to our babies; we give our cars names or we feel sad when things that have belonged to us for a long time are thrown away. In addition, children animate their toys and stick with them like they’re best friends. As psychoanalyst Melanie Klein argues, we learn to have relationships with others starting with forming relationships with our toys and stuffed animals, which later on leads to our personality in relation with other things and people (Klee, Object Relations Theory).When we are little, we tend to be more attached to our favorite toy, pillow or blanket. We have to carry it wherever we go. I believe it’s the same as the relationship with our favorite person. We tell them everything; hang out with them as much as possible; or need their company when we’re lonely. The compassion we have for an inanimate object reflects our personality and how we treat people. In addition, in “When We Need a Human: Motivational Determinants Anthropomorphic,” Nicholas Epley, Adam Waytz, Scott Akalis, and John T. Cacioppo argue that humans anthropomorphize because we’re lonely. We apply feelings to nonliving objects in order to satisfy our need for socialization (144). We talk to our phones, animals, or cars as if we’re talking to our dear friends. Therefore, I conclude that our relationships toward objects have an impact on our relationships with others. People anthropomorphize also because we feel and we want things around us to have the same ability. There are many anthropomorphic products in the market now because they attract people and sometimes we’re attracted by these products without knowing it. For example, it’s our natural ability to find faces everywhere in our lives. We find animal shapes or faces in trees or rocks, or we find faces on chairs, shelves, radios, microwaves…etc. There is also a twitter feed #iseefaces where people share faces they see in all kinds of things. Faces are the most 9 appealing part of our body, so familiar to us that we start creating them in different ways. Designers are using this as an advantage to trigger human emotions. Anthropomorphic details improve our emotional feelings while using the product because it makes us feel like the object is working with us, helping us finish the task. As a result, it provides a better experience while we are using it. For example, Philip Starck designed a series of kitchen products that look like cute animals or even little humans, which give people joy and fun while cooking (Figure 1). Cooking might not be a pleasant Figure 3.1 Juicy Salif by Philippe Starck activity for everyone; however, with an anthropomorphic product, people are more likely to feel joy while completing the task. These anthropomorphic designs also inspired me to consider why we feel or treat different objects differently, why people choose this product instead of others, and how designers decide to include the factors in a design. For instance, Disney has designed characters with big eyes and cute little mouths which catch our attention, especially kids (Figure 2). They have made the idea of anthropomorphizing recognizable for people to have more desire to imagine things alive or think of them as humans. As a result, we can predict that when people see an object with anthropomorphic application Figure 3.2 Bambi by Disney 1942 and another one without, they’re more likely to be attracted by the anthropomorphic product. These objects make us feel familiar and comfortable. Therefore, I want my thesis to use anthropomorphic figures as a tool for people to approach the 10 furniture based on its familiarity. Finally, Liam Gillick’s work inspired me to think of what design should provide instead of just presenting a piece of work. Unlike art work pieces, product designs are mostly for the purpose of providing a function. However, when we go to a design Figure 3.3 Artwork by Liam Gillick at Frieze art fair. 2009 exhibition, we’re still not allowed to touch or try on anything. Gillick’s works are different; he creates relational art installations to include interaction of the people who went to see his show. I was influenced by his concept of planning Figure 3.4 Liam Gillick, Discussion Bench Platform, 2010. ahead to include interaction in his exhibition as a part of his art work. He used color panels and boards to create spaces and benches for people to use and have conversations. Color is one of the main elements in his works, and he used solid boards or transparent color panels on square structures; they not only separate different spaces but also create different atmospheres with the combination of lights (Figure3). His art works are not only displayed as art pieces on the walls but also create physical ones for people to touch, use and relate to, (Figure 4) separating his work from other artists’ works that are usually only for people to look at. He created his work of art with other meaning than just aesthetic value. Therefore, I would want my design to be used, experienced and felt by people in my final exhibition the same as Gillick included audiences in his show. 11 With the influences from these artists and designers, I started to think of not just the relationship between humans and objects but also how they can encourage people to interact with each other or somehow make a statement by reminding people how important interaction is. As a result, through the research in background information of ways people communicate, interact and how it has changed throughout time, my thesis will emphasize the encouragement of social interaction through anthropomorphic public furniture. 12 Social interaction A. Definition of social interaction The definition of interaction from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “mutual or reciprocal action or influence.” According to a division social work Professor Dr. Santos, there are three components for social interaction: an action, a common goal and a social context. These three components can help us understand our social meaning. In “An Invitation to Ethnomethodology: Language, Society, and Social Interaction.” The authors explain that we call it social interaction because “they are done or within the relation of others.” They also introduced different levels of social interaction which include “collective activities” and “individual activities with reference to others.” (Francis, Hester, 1) Examples of collective activities are dining with family or attending a meeting, activities directly involving other people. Examples of individual activities with reference to others are reading a letter or dressing up before going out, activities done by individuals who interact with people indirectly. To explain social interaction in this thesis more specifically, it is not to eliminate digital devices, but to provide a conversation piece or interactive piece so that people have this social context to act upon, a common goal to figure out, which creates the opportunity to engage with one another though furniture. B. Human as social beings Humans are social beings. From the day we’re born, we need other people’s company. We depend on our parents to live, rely on peers to grow and experience life with people around us to learn. By doing so, we form trust. Author Simon Sinek notes that “When we trust, we’re more willing to experiment. We have the confidence that if we fail or trip over, that those who trust us will look after us…The goal is to amplify your strength and surround yourself with people who can do what you can’t do…” (Myers) We help each other with things we’re better at doing. The 13 trust between people becomes the relationships in a society, knowing that we need and rely on each other. According to Courtney Boyd Myers, who covers New York City startups and digital innovation, this kind of connecting gives us fulfillment and a sense of connection (Myers). By the achievement of others, we learn how to deal with things in order to improve and pass down to younger generations. In addition, being social also means we have a need to share. We present ourselves to others and hope for appreciation, reward or compliment. Showing people what we’ve accomplished, what we like or what we own also provides the opportunity for people to get to know us, giving us a sense of achievement, purpose and approval. Sharing is also considered a way of communication, and communication is a necessity in human society. Author John A. Piece illustrates that “Communication is not only the essence of being human but also a vital property of life.” (Famous Quotes, Quotations, and Sayings at WorldOfQuotes) Basically, communicating is what humans do most of the time. This can be traced back in history to a time when people drew on the walls of caves to tell stories, formed languages to understand each other or created words to record the past. There are more types of communication being discovered and invented through experiences. For example, we can easily recognize how people feel or what they’re trying to tell us by natural facial expressions and body languages. Most of them are universal which we’ll be able to understand without the need of languages or words. However, even if there are things that stay the same meaning throughout centuries, there are many other representations appearing in new generations which become a new means of communication. This shows that with the inventions and events happening in different centuries and generations, different expressions, words or meanings are invented. For example, people used to use language, words or body language to communicate. However, now with the internet, people become accustomed to communicating by sending or posting images that represent the expression’s meaning, emoticons that show the facial expression or videos which record 14 statements. In addition, a psychologist points out that the act of what we’ve learned is a way of communicating. We learned from being a part of society, by the mistakes of others and by interacting. Sometimes interacting in a society forms a trend which people start following; they become a part of it and it shapes who they’ve become.(Gross) Myers believes that how people communicate shows what a person believes and who he is by the personality he’s presenting. As a result, being in the society and surrounded by other people is obviously a very significant part of our lives. C. The change of interaction Although some claim that the internet provides us control over our social lives, others argue that it has started to detract from genuine human interaction. This has affected human relationships in a variety of ways. Before internet and social media became a huge part of our world, we had interactions that provided us opportunities to actually be around people, have face to face conversations, or communicate with a trace of expression. An article from New York Times notes that these actions give us chances to learn empathy, emotional response and body language (Stout). Interacting face to face also takes time, patience and effort to maintain good relationships with others. Now technology saves us a huge amount of time wasted from waiting for answers, responding to emails and the restriction of distance. In “Changing Communication as We Know It: Twitter,” Soren Gordhamer defines five key aspects of social media communication, allowing us to select who we want to connect with, giving us options to include multiple people in one conversation, providing a stage where other people can view the conversations, making us respond with short sentences or words for more participation in other discussions, and finally, providing us opportunities for impossible accesses (Gordhamer). In addition, the upgrade of different functions in social media provides faster ways of sharing what 15 we see, where we are or what we’re doing. Through these updates online, we’re constantly telling people things about us. The advantages of using social media have made us accustomed to fast communication. We can respond to multiple people online and still continue working at the same time. However, an author from New York Times believes that using digital communication can help us switch our attention from one place to another which raises the problem of being constantly distracted (Korkki).We pay little attention to every person we’re trying to communicate with, which in the end might cause us to even forget what conversation we just had. Because of the fast-paced information world, people are trying to accomplish as much as possible in a limited amount of time. The author of In Praise of Slowness notes that we become less patient to listen to others, spend time telling a story or even stop and think if we’re okay(Honore). A journalist specializing in social issues believes that technology takes away peoples’ willingness to experience life and to find out answers in a traditional way (Lights). With the advantages of having technology, people want everything fast; in the end, it seems like we are connected to a lot of people and have access to a lot of knowledge, but actually we’re all alone. With the awareness that humans are becoming lonelier than we used to be, one of the ways people try to solve this problem is by designing robots to keep us company. In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle discusses the inventions ranging from Tamagotchi, Furbies to Zhu Zhu pets. These products show that their demand for care has triggered children’s emotional feelings to the robots. Even though they knew the robots were only machines, the children still considered their robot pets alive enough to be cared for (Turkle, 31). Now there are more advanced technologies created to be there for us. This is when i-Phone Siri and other responsive robots came along. Turkle observed people’s responses with animal shaped robots that they take home and spent time with. The result shows that people started to talk to the robot, telling it their feelings and 16 secrets. A journalist Jacqueline Howard writes that in testing what people say to the robots, she found that people would tell the robots things they wouldn’t admit to other people (Howard). In addition, many other inventions are still being tested. People are trying to make robots as similar to ourselves, not just the appearance, but how they respond and react. For instance, Microsoft designed a virtual boy called Milo who can react to whoever’s talking to him and respond to people’s emotions and movements (Peter Molyneux Demos Milo, the Virtual Boy). These are all examples we see in the market that try to accommodate people’s need to interact. By the familiarity of animal or human forms, the robots become a substitute which people turn to. Turkle did research on people’s reactions to robots and found that many treat robots like other humans because they look alive, they respond like humans and their cute appearances are a factor that people cannot resist. These are the characteristics which trigger people to anthropomorphize. In “From Seduction to Fulfillment: The Use of Anthropomorphic Form in Design,” the research shows that the reason people anthropomorphize is that it makes them feel familiar with an object, or at least able to understand it through its appearance. (DiSalve, Gemperle) When looking back at the things around us which we also find connected to, or that we reveal our emotional feelings to, we can find them to be objects that belong to us. Have you had the experience of talking to your toys or stuffed animals? Or telling your car not to break down on a very important day? To some extent, anthropomorphizing is another way of making us feel accompanied, in control and connected. This is a valuable human characteristic existing in our human nature regardless of the invention of robots or other technological social media. Managing director of Havas Media notes that in the report by German scientists, the human mind needs to interact with other people so badly that it has to think of other objects having minds like we do (Joshi). 17 D. Examples of interaction furniture design. In the furniture industry, designers also realized the importance of actual face to face human social interaction. There are many examples of furniture in public spaces for the encouragement of interaction. A group of designers from an architecture company Figure 4.1 mmmm… 2011 Meeting Bowl mmmm…placed seating units in Times Square for people to meet and create new relationships with friends or strangers. The furniture is called Meeting Bowls (Figure 5) because they are round shaped and constructed by CNC cut boards which look like bigger versions of Figure 4.2 Rebar 2008 Bushwaffle coffee cup-shaped rides we see in amusement parks. Each unit is designed to contain 8 people. One of the designers explained the concept which is to have people interact in busy Times Square in the most common way people talk, in a circle. Figure 4.3 Neulhae Cho 2011 Swingers 18 Another example of public furniture, Bushwaffle (Figure 6), is designed by Rebar. The design team made star shaped inflatable furniture which looks like big pillows that people can sit on. They can also be tied together on the corners to create a bigger cushion for a bigger space or formed into various shapes for more people to sit together or play on top of it. The concept is to provide people fun and pleasure in an urban city, giving them a place to relax and interact with others. Swinger (Figure 7) is public furniture designed by Neulhae Cho for two people to interact in urban spaces. It is designed with two chairs facing the opposite sides and connected together by an arch in the middle which makes the chair swing like Figure 4.4 Ear chair by Studio MAkkink & Bey an original seesaw when two people are sitting on it. Cho believes the two people sitting on the chair playing seesaw will become closer; even when they face opposite directions, they’re still connected. Compared to furniture encouraging social interaction, furniture designed for the purpose of privacy has been popular in Figure 4.5 oOf Box by George Liarikos recent years. They are designed mostly for the use in office spaces, homes or public spaces; their 19 privacy gives users a more secure and personal space to read or use their technological devices such as a laptop or cellphone. Ear chair (Figure 8) designed by Studio MAkkink & Bey are chairs with high backs and big wings so that several of them can create a space for a private group. They are big chairs that are comfortable enough for everyone but still have separation from the rest of the open spaces. Another example is the oOf Box (Figure 9), designed by George Liarikos. It is a one person cubicle for people to work in public spaces. It provides a single seat and a table where people can place their laptop or any other digital devices while working. The cubicle is mostly an office environment and provides a personal space in public spaces as well as access to other people. HUSH (Figure 10), furniture designed for private spaces by Freyja Sewell, takes its concept from the large population. The concept is to provide a resting space for people to escape from the busy and crowded world. It can be placed in public spaces such as hotels, airports or libraries. HUSH is designed to give people more privacy and peacefulness. These three examples of enclosed furniture are all very well designed to meet their purposes. Because the use of digital devices keeps people constantly working or busy, a private and personal space in public areas seems reasonable for the need of distance and seclusion. However, they can also be the reason why people are having a harder time Figure 4.6 HUSH by Freyja Sewell connecting. As a result, in order to release people from their busy work and the intense concentration on their devices, this thesis seeks the possible ways and opportunities for people to engage with each other in the public environment. 20 Through the examples of furniture design for social interaction, one important element for people to participate is the fun and the novelty they find while using the furniture. However, there must be other features that could be added into the design. With the design of robots, one of the things that trigger our human compassion and intimacy to them is their anthropomorphic characteristics. They are either made into the imitation of human/animal forms, movements or expressions that make us feel comfortable and willing to open our hearts. As a result, I believe anthropomorphic characteristics can be a vehicle that brings people together. Through the compassion and the inner human tendency to generate emotional feelings to an object, the connection should provide a chance for people to interact. With this special connection to the things around us or the things we own, I believe that even with the diverse online social activities, people can still be attracted by human instincts to animate the inanimate. People can perhaps even engender stronger emotional feelings to anthropomorphic objects due to the increasing loneliness caused by technology. This thesis will in the end present a series of anthropomorphic furniture for the purpose of proving that human relationships toward objects can encourage people to interact despite the fact that online social networks have forced us physically apart. With technology being a part of us, areas with furniture has become a space where people want to work with privacy. Through the observation of contract furniture, it became a trend to design furniture with enclosed space. As a result, public furniture should be an appropriate category to start introducing a different purpose. In addition, this thesis does not suggest eliminating social networks altogether but to find out how to incorporate them as a part of the encouragement for face to face interaction. 21 Anthropomorphism A. Define anthropomorphism Anthropomorphic design is the method I will use as a vehicle for people to approach public furniture and have a chance to interact with others. As a result, it is important to understand the background information of anthropomorphism in order to know where it comes from and how it has been used from the past until the 21st century. Anthropomorphism is a way of showing human relationships with objects; it means to reflect human like qualities toward non-living objects. For instance, you say sorry to your phone when you drop it, feel sad when things that belong to you for a long time are thrown away, or think your car is giving you attitude when it doesn’t start. There are many explanations from scholars for this tendency toward anthropomorphism. For example, In “Imitating the Human Form: Four kinds of Anthropomorphic Form” the authors write that “Anthropomorphism is commonly defined as the attribution of human-like qualities to inanimate objects or animal.” (DiSalvo, Gemperle, Forlizzi) Of course, other than treating your car as if it’s alive, trying to read your pets’ thoughts or talking to them is something we do all the time which is also considered anthropomorphizing. The article “On Seeing Human: A Three-Factor Theory of Anthropomorphism” gives a more detailed explanation saying that “Imbuing the imagined or real behavior of nonhuman agents with human like characteristics, motivations, intentions, and emotions is the essence of anthropomorphism.” (Epley, Waytz, Cacioppo, 864-865) In the article the authors explain that nonhuman agents could be animals, God, or objects. (Epley, Waytz, Cacioppo, 865) Humans have compassion and we form emotional feelings to things around us easily. It could be our pets, our religion or even our possessions. The term anthropomorphic is created by combining two Greek words, anthropos, meaning men, and morphe, meaning form. At the time, the word anthropomorphic was used to describe 22 the act of applying human characteristics to God. God is supposed to be a spirit, however, in the Bible, God is referred to as a father, a king, or a healer. In “The Human Lens: How Anthropomorphic Reasoning Varies by Product Complexity and Enhances Personal Value,” authors note the work of Xenophenes, a Greek philosopher who studied the similarity of the worshipper and their God in the sixth century BC. (Hart, Jones, Royne, 3) This is when anthropomorphism was first being documented and since then anthropomorphism has become a tool for humans to understand non-human agents. B. History of anthropomorphism used on object/furniture The use of anthropomorphism can be found long ago. Lion Man (Figure 11) from the ice age is considered the oldest sculpture with anthropomorphic characteristics. It is a standing, lion faced human sculpture created around 40,000 years ago. Although researchers still cannot determine what Lion Man represents, they were impressed that sculptors from such long time ago have the imagination of representing more than an existing form. In addition, the ancient pottery from the Neolithic in the Balkans (Figure 12) also has human figures on the vessels. The anthropomorphic vessels are mostly the shape and details of the female body which include face, breasts, legs, Figure 5.1 40,000 years old: Lion Man sculpture. Photo: Thomas Stephan, © Ulmer Museu hips and hands. The emphasis on the body part of the vessel shows its function, for example, the big hip and legs with the decoration inside the vessel, which is considered once used as a jewelry vessel. As for the faces, although there are no mouths to be found, they are still recognizable because of the combination of eyes, eyebrows and noses. Moreover, there are more 23 representations being found in the Neolithic vessels; the use of the female body shape is also found in figurine-house models which mean that women gave birth, nurtured, and raised babies in this place. Another representation of the female shaped vessel is used Figure 5.2 Anthropomorphic vessels in burials to carry cremated remains inside as a representation of placing the remains in a mother’s womb. Through the understanding of anthropomorphism, its origin and the examples from ancient times, there are some clues about the use of anthropomorphism. First it is used to understand the unknown. Using anthropomorphism to have God respond like humans, act like humans or have human images allows us to feel closer to God. Another are the faces created with characteristics that can be easily recognized. Lastly it is to give not just meaning but also functions that go with the symbols. The representations of the object become the reason for the design. Anthropomorphic furniture can be traced back to ancient Egypt (3000-2000BC), particularly furniture from the upper class. Chairs, stools and beds are the three categories of furniture that have decoration of animal carvings on their legs. In ancient Egypt, animals and signs have different symbolic meanings which also serve as decoration on furniture. Egyptian chairs have lion’s paws or sometimes crocodile feet. The shape of the legs is carved to Figure 5.3 Egyption duck stool. 24 resemble gazelle legs. Folding stools are the most commonly seen furniture in ancient Egyptian homes. Originally they were used by the army commander and later on became a status symbol. It was decorated with graceful animals such as ducks (Figure 13). As for the beds, they all have animal legs. There are ones with bull’s legs; some of them have gazelle legs with hooves, and some of them have cat-like faces with paws and claws which are recognized as lion legs. The use of the animals and their symbolic meanings from ancient Egypt such as lion, crocodile and bull all have the meaning of power and strength and resemble people with high status or royalty. Later, in the 18th century AD, the use of ball and claw design (Figure 14) is another example of anthropomorphic design in furniture, which is the combination of carvings of animal feet on chairs. Historians believe that the ball and claw design comes from the Chinese representation of a dragon’s claw holding a pearl or a crystal ball. Another explanation is that the claw is from a crane that is holding a river stone. No matter which story is true, this design was first seen on the porcelain brought back from trade with China and Japan. Later on, Figure 5.4 Baw and claw legs craftsmen in England transformed the design from dragon feet to lion feet which represents authority, and it was popular from 1710 to 1750. However, ball and claw design remained a trend up until 1790 in the United States. Through the use of symbolic meaning and story representations, anthropomorphic design has become a tool for humans to present their cultures, beliefs and trends. 25 C. Example of anthropomorphic products in the 21st century Now, in the 21st century, there are all kinds of anthropomorphic designs introduced to users. With the products’ anthropomorphic appearances, people form emotional feelings to them. For example, Alessi (Figure 15) designs Figure 5.5 Alessi products kitchen products with animal and human forms which give users a pleasant experience while using the tools. Eero Aarnio designed the Puppy chair (Figure 16) and Pony chair (Figure 17) which have the shape of a dog and a horse. They are lovable because of their animal shape and scale. Despite these daily products, now people even decorate their cars with eyelashes and testicles. Although humans have been anthropomorphizing since long ago, we all know that children play with their toys and objects as animated characters all the time. However, when Disney started creating these interesting animations, the exaggerated characteristics triggered our emotional feelings to the characters and made our ability to anthropomorphize official. Figure 5.6 Puppy chair by Eero Aarnio Figure 5.7 Pony Chair by Eero Aarnio 26 Relationship between human and anthropomorphic objects A. Why people anthropomorphize There are reasons which explain why people anthropomorphize. In the article “From Seduction to Fulfillment: The Use of Anthropomorphic Form in Design” the authors organize the reasons into: 1) to keep things familiar 2) to explain things we don’t understand 3) to reflect attribution of product and 4) to reflect human values (DiSalve, Gemperle). We anthropomorphize things because we know ourselves the best, our own image, and the way we talk and act. For example, a female shaped perfume and soap bottle is a product designed to make consumers feel familiar, which also gives the purpose of representing the image of the users. Figure 6.1 A Bug’s life Another example is the Disney animation “A Bug’s Life” (Figure 18) ;the bug characters were anthropomorphized into human form with big eyes, noses and mouths. Animators made them into forms that humans are familiar with, something cute enough for people to accept them. In “Anthropomorphic Design- Projecting Human Characteristics to Product” Jeong-gun Choi and Myungsuk Kim argue that designers use “Form as Metaphor” to design products or objects that concentrate on the similarities which we’re familiar with so that they become more acceptable (Choi, Kim, 94). Also in “Anthropomorphism, Empathy, and Perceived Communicative Ability Vary with Phylogenetic Relatedness to Humans,” the author notes that according to the research, people tend to anthropomorphize animals that have a closer relationship or gene with humans. (Harrison, 34) The more similar they are to us the more we think they have closer mental state 27 like that of humans. In addition, the author of “Giving the Toaster Eyes” notes that “people unconsciously preoccupied with human prototype or template, and pay attention to them which ignore the ones that don’t fit.” (Frayer, 17) That is why we can see faces everywhere, on the doors, chairs or on the streets. Choi and Kim, write, “There is a universal among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves… We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds.” (Choi, Kim, 89) From the human image of God in Greek, we see one example that anthropomorphism is used to explain the unknown. In recent years, people have started designing complicated machines and computers which those without special technical knowledge won’t normally understand. However, applying smiley and sad faces on computer screens to show either the good or bad condition of the computer made it easier for most people to know if the computer is working properly or not. The most obvious example of reflecting attributions of a product is the appearance of cars. The faces we see on the front and the end of the cars actually goes with its strength. Usually smaller cars look cuter and much more vulnerable whereas the bigger trucks look masculine and stronger. Anthropomorphic shapes play an important role in explaining the use and the condition of a product. In “A Sociable Robot to Encourage Social Interaction among the Figure 6.2 Seal robot Paro Elderly,” they placed an anthropomorphic robot among the elderly and try to observe how the elderly interact and respond to the robot. They mentioned that people described the seal robot Paro (Figure19) as needing to swim because of its outlook. It gives people a false impression that it might need water. This has become an 28 example of an anthropomorphic shape that gives people wrong expectations. The article stated “the way the robot appears, how its movements are interpreted and how responsive it is to users’ actions will all change the way user perceive their interactions with the robot.” (Kidd, Taggart, Turkle) Lastly, robots are a good example for reflecting human values. Designing intelligent robots into human shapes gives people ideas about what they’re for and what they can do. There are other reasons people anthropomorphize such as predicting the upcoming interaction, taking control of things around us, the need for social interaction and finally as a way of reflecting who we are. B. Ways to anthropomorphize Ways of anthropomorphizing can be divided into forms, symbols, movements, and objects with faces (expressions). Some of them can be recognized through the ancient times as mentioned earlier in the thesis, like the faces historians recognized on the female shaped vessels, the form of the vessels and the symbolic meaning from the use of the vessels as well as the Egyptian furniture with animal carvings. Now with so many products available in the 21st century, there are many ways anthropomorphized furniture design could be divided. I. Anthropomorphic forms: There are human forms, animal forms, organic forms and geometric forms that we use to create products or characters. In “From Seduction to Fulfillment: the Use of Anthropomorphic Form in Design” the authors note that “Form of a product communicates its Figure 6.3 UP5 UP6 by Gaetano Pesce 29 expression (DiSalvo, Gemperle). It deals with shape, size, also the behavior and interaction comes with the use of the product.” For example, an iconic furniture design UP5, UP6 (Figure 20) by Gaetano Pesce, is a set of chairs and ottomans shaped like a female body with a ball chained to it. The designer used anthropomorphic shapes to make the chair look like a woman’s body, and the ball and chain to represent that Figure 6.4 Ponies by Eero Aarnio women are like prisoners being confined. In addition, there are other designs that use the human body as a part of the chair or the whole chair. Human legs are the most popular characteristic since we use the same word “leg” for both humans and furniture. Animal shapes for anthropomorphic furniture are also commonly seen. An iconic design Ponies (Figure 21) by Eero Aarnio, is a horse shaped furniture piece with four legs and a big head. Some designs might use the exact shape of the animal as furniture; some might only have the head which shows that it’s an animal; others might not have an exact shape of a certain kind of animal but they usually have two to three legs, a body and a big head. The size of the parts depends on the function of the furniture. For example, lighting will have two legs, a thin body and a big head. On the other hand, a chair would have four legs, a big body and a smaller head. 30 II. Symbols (Animal characteristics): Figure 6.5 Bambi Chairs by Takeshi Sawada Figure 6.6 Rabbit Ear Chair by Kazuyo Sejima and Rye Nishizawa Looking at furniture that is designed to have animal characteristics, they all have at least one obvious form of characteristics. For example, a lamp with four legs and a very long neck resembles a giraffe, chairs with long straight ears can be easily recognized as rabbits, or chairs with horns in the front can be viewed as rhinos. Many designers have also used these characteristics as their design inspiration or main concept. Designer Takeshi Sawada creates Bambi Chairs (Figure 22) that are made with oak, walnut and fake fur. They are small stools with deer fur patterns on the seat and wooden antlers as the back support. It looks nothing like a deer, however, through the pattern and the characteristic “antlers” we can easily recognized what animal it’s representing. Rabbit Chair (Figure 23) by Merve Kahraman is a white chair with big straight ears on top of the back support and paws on the chair handles. It’s another example of a chair that can be easily known as a certain animal without looking exactly like one. In addition, even with the same characteristics, there are different Figure 6.7 Rabbit Chair by Merve Kahraman 31 interpretations and shapes to present. For example, Rabbit Ear Chair (Figure 24) designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Rye Nishizawa also has a pair of rabbit ears in the back of the chair. However, it’s totally different from the one Merve Kahraman designed. III. Movements: Movement is another way of anthropomorphizing an object. Unlike animations, it’s harder to make an object move on its own. However, there are other ways to present an object and make it feel like it is moving, such as posing and physical gestures. There are art works and designs out there that make people smile when we see them. The motions and expression they show are usually fun and unexpected. The Walking Cabinet (Figure 25) for example is a wonderful design creating movement on furniture. Designed by Markus Johansson Design studio, The Walking Cabinet are cabinets that look like original ones with a twist Figure 6.8 The Walking Cabinet by Markus Johansson Design studio on form. The cabinet presents a feeling of walking because their legs are staggered in motion like walking. The design concept is to give the furniture a life of its own. To make it practical, Figure 6.9, 6.10, 6.11. Jake Cress’s anthropomorphic furniture 32 several of them can even be placed against each other to become longer. Another example is Jake Cress, an artist who creates quirky furniture pieces. He uses traditional handcraft techniques to create furniture with postures/faces which made them fun and playful. They are his animated collections, including: Cripple Table (Figure 26), a table with a leg replaced by a crutch which makes you feel that it is walking very slowly; Self-portrait (Figure 27), a chair with hands holding tools and posing like it’s making furniture; and a chair with ball and claw design in which one of its leg is trying to catch the ball it’s supposed to hold (Figure 28). Finally, M Angelo Arnold designed a series of metamorphic furniture sculptures (Figure 29). They are mostly with postures or one furniture piece interacting with another. His creations may not be functional but he sure gives them their own lives and statements. In his website, he mentioned that “These metamorphic forms deconstruct the functional object to establish a foundation or platform to recall past memories, stories and uncanny events.” He wishes these furniture sculptures would give people new expectations and provoke different interpretations. His furniture not only creates movement but also presents an expression and attitude though it postures and the interaction between furniture pieces. Figure 6.12 M Angelo Arnold’s furniture sculptures. 33 IV. Object with faces: It is our human nature to find things that look familiar to us. We must all have experiences of seeing faces in nature such as rocks, clouds and trees (Figure 30); as well as in hardware, cars or furniture (Figure 31), not to mention intentional designs to catch people’s attention. In Jesse J. Chandler’s article “The cognitive and emotional consequences of anthropomorphic thought”, she notes that the research shows that people are more attracted to cute characteristics. For example people appear to choose the bigger eyed baby, like a robot vacuum over the smaller eyed adult like robot. (Chandler) In addition, another reason we’re so familiar with faces is discussed in “Giving the Toaster Eyes: Applied Anthropomorphism and Its Influences on User- Object Relations with Everyday Objects,” Paul Ekman, described the face as the most skilled non-verbal communicator,” which means our facial expressions (Frayer, 27). In 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People identified seven universal emotions which are joy, sadness, contempt, fear, disgust, surprise, and anger. People can easily recognize these emotions by the move of facial muscles and of course with physical gestures (Ekman, 108). However, to present these facial expressions on an anthropomorphic product, they can be recognized differently by shape, size or sometimes the proportion of eyes and mouth. Figure 6.13 tree, rock and cloud with faces. 34 Figure 6.14 Hardware, car, and furniture with faces. C. Conclusion of the example in anthropomorphic products What’s missing from the existing designs? Through the observation of anthropomorphic furniture in different categories, it appears they all have some element of human or animal forms, faces or characteristics. However, they are mostly in still motion. They’re either furniture with interactive characteristics without anthropomorphic elements, or furniture with anthropomorphic characteristics without the involvement of interaction among people. At this point, furniture is mostly designed with fun or pleasant appearances. However, social interaction is a kind of human behavior. As a result, to design interactive anthropomorphic furniture, the designs should focus on behaviors or the representation of behaviors. It could be designed for people to interact through performing the behaviors. The forms and knowledge of our understanding in human or animal behaviors should be guidance to how the furniture works. 35 Design The idea of this thesis came from our daily conversations, the things we love to share or talk about, as well as the need for human socialization and interaction. For instance, we introduce good products to our friends, share funny things about our pets and the people around us, or show an interesting event, an appearance or an image. Since the internet has become a big part of us, the visuals are something that help us connect images or imaginations. In addition, because of the distance built between people in this technological world, people have started to feel lonely. In “When We Need a Human: Motivational Determinants of Anthropomorphic,” the authors mentioned that this phenomena triggers the need for companionship and control which leads to anthropomorphism (Epley, Waytz, Akalis and Cacioppo, 147). Through the research on anthropomorphic products and furniture from the past, anthropomorphic characteristics have always been an important part of existence. As a result, I believe anthropomorphism is the proper design element to introduce people to engage with the world and other people. In order to encourage social interaction, I combined the unconscious appeal, human/animal behaviors and representations as design elements. Based on the shape or the guidance of anthropomorphism, people should be able to understand how to use the furniture without any further explanation. There are three indoor public spaces where I observe the interaction between people while sitting beside their friends. First, in a hotel lobbies, people sit and talk or look at other people, look at things of interest around them, or play with their phones. Second is in a shopping mall, where people talk to each other or look out for their children so they don’t get lost or sit beside each other without talking at all. Third, in office and school public spaces, people look at decorations or installations, talk to people they know, or looking at their phones. As for the furniture elements in public spaces, there are coffee tables, chairs, benches, wall decoration, and lightings. These are the furniture pieces I included in my design collection. They will create an 36 environment where people can experience interaction through different purposes of the design pieces. I also designed furniture pieces for these areas mainly because they are places where people do not remain for a very long time. People who stay at these public spaces are mostly resting or waiting. By placing interactive anthropomorphic furniture, it gives them enough time to explore things around them but not to the point of getting bored. They could be approached by people coming and going and not just the people who own them like any other residential furniture. The way they’re designed serves the purpose well enough for a brief fun stop and an interesting interaction with people also in the area. 37 A. Bird Bench – Animal behavior / animal form Concepts and design The Bird Bench is a long seat for public spaces. The purpose is to provide a fun element to the same surface people are sitting on. Bird Bench is different from park benches because there are rubber birds standing on the back of the bench for people to discover and play with. The idea is to have people interact with each other through the birds. The birds are designed to be able to slide across the back of the bench and are big enough to poke people in the back if people lean on them. Through sliding and repositioning the birds, people are given the opportunity to interact with others sitting next to them. The idea is to design furniture that is very familiar to people yet provides fun elements that allow people to have fun while gathering with one another. Figure 7.1 Bird Bench design rendering. 38 Figure 7.2 Bird Bench design physical work 1. Figure 7.3 Bird Bench design physical work 2. B. Dancing Stools- Human behavior/ human form Concepts and design Dancing Stools is designed to be fun, playful and for people to interact both directly and indirectly. The shape of the stool is designed from the reference of human form, which has a head as seating and a bigger bottom like a person wearing a beautiful dress in a bright color. The round bottom gives a gentle rock when people sit on it, and the motion of rocking represents people dancing. Dancing Stools provides playful seating for people to have fun while taking a short rest. The movements and bright colors encourage interaction to both people on the stools and the ones passing by. Dancing Stools is designed for people to approach, relax and interact 39 with a slight movement. It’s not only fun as seating, but also interesting to look at. Figure 7.4 Dancing Stools design rendering. Figure 7.5 Dancing Stools physical work 1 Figure 7.6 Dancing Stools physical work 2. 40 C. Mushroom Side Table- Human behavior/ nature form (mushroom) Concept and design Mushroom Side Tables have a pattern on the table top so that people know the tables can be matched. They are designed to have three as a unit. However, they’re all identical shapes which could be arranged in different ways and sizes according to need. People are encouraged to interact with each other by rearranging the tables into bigger or smaller surfaces. The inspiration of its shape is from mushroom’s organic form. The base of the table has cutouts which makes them more interesting to explore and look at. In addition, the offset shape of the neck gives a feeling of movement and liveliness, representing their motions when people arrange them. Figure 7.7 Mushroom Side Table Design Rendering Figure 7.8 Mushroom Side Table Design Rendering 2 41 Figure 7.9 Mushroom Side Table physical work 1. Figure 7.10. Mushroom Side Table physical work 2. 42 Discussion and Results We can categorize the existing products and furniture with anthropomorphic characteristics in different ways: products or furniture with 1) faces, 2) body/animal shapes, 3) animal characteristics, and 4) movements. These become the allure for people to approach public furniture, make people feel comfortable being around them and give them a space to relax and feel entertained. Through the familiarity of anthropomorphic characteristics, they also provide the purpose of guidance for people to know how to interact with the furniture; this eventually leads to the goal of communication or interaction. In order to design furniture that gives people the opportunity to interact in public areas, the furniture needs to have elements that require participation. Human and animal behaviors are two references for the designs. Movement is a direct way of introducing interaction. Bird Bench uses the inspiration of birds flying away, which is an animal behavior as a reference for the main design concept. By moving the birds, people preform animal behavior as a way to interact and discover the fun they can have with the furniture and people around them. By adding the colors and texture to the birds, they become even more attracted to people. Dancing stools bring in a playful ambiance as people rock gently while having conversations. The reference of this design is to suggest motions of a dancer which is a human behavior as a way to encourage interesting conversations. Mushroom Side Tables give people the knowledge of movement with both its circle pattern on the top and the shape of movement on the base. They are designed to be anthropomorphized by both the movement of its form and the way they’re actually moved by users. This thesis utilizes anthropomorphism as the main design element and guidance to encourage interaction. Through human behavior and the scenarios created by the design pieces, the furniture successfully gives people a pleasant experience with their friends or even strangers. 43 From the observation of people interacting with the furniture pieces at the show, people first explored the soft colorful Dancing Stools because they are fun and comfortable. People liked to move them closer to each other and rock while having conversations. (Figure 43) Next they moved on to the bird bench because they were attracted by the colorful cute birds. Most people were very excited to feel the texture when they started touching and moving the rubber birds. Some people kept petting them as if they were pets. And some people had fun rearranging them. This piece does not necessarily make people sit closer to each other, but it did give people much opportunity to interact while exploring. (Figure 43) Lastly, people looked at the Mushroom Side Tables and tried to figure out how to put them together in order to match the pattern on the table top. It seemed that people still need some time to figure out how to match them correctly, which serves the purpose of interacting while they ask other people to help and explore. (Figure 44) Based on the limitation of the gallery space, it seemed a little bit crowded for people to sit and interact in the area with the three design pieces. To go further with the study, I would like to place them in actual public areas to observe how people interact with one another while exploring the furniture. 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