We are looking at the importance of tactility in our increasingly digital world. We are exploring why the sense of touch is so important and how designers are preserving our intimate and tangible connection to the world around us. In this Talent section, we showcase the creatives working in new ways to encourage touch and preserve the human sensation of tactile interaction.

Naupaka IV by Brendan George Ko

Brendan George Ko, The Visual Storyteller, US

Canadian-born photographer Brendan George Ko is a visual storyteller working across photography, video installation, text and sound. After becoming frustrated with his settled urban existence, Ko chose to live a life of nomadic exploration. Throughout his travels in the United States and Canada, Ko captures the intriguing narratives of existence he comes across. He has a keen eye for surreal details, captivating light and seductive colour palettes, and his portfolio is a catalogue of alluringly composed moments – poetic representations of time, place and space. ‘Rather than describing what something is, I focus on conveying the spirit of that something in my photographs. I try to invoke an emotional response in my use of image by recreating the atmosphere that I remembered from my memory,’ he explains.

Gold tree by Brendan George Ko

There is an extremely tactile element to Ko’s work and he prefers to use analogue cameras and film over digital mediums because ‘the very pigment of film grain mirrors the random arrangement of cones and rods that read light and colour in our eyes.’ His exquisite photographs owe part of their allure to exaggerated, saturated and unexpected colour.


Digital Materials by Ada Sokol

Ada Sokol, The Digital Sculptor, France

Designer Ada Sokol has developed a practice that delicately manipulates digital materials to create an exquisite photorealistic aesthetic. Sokol’s background is in fashion design; she is self-taught in 3D rendering and uses the medium to express her progressive vision. Her portfolio evokes an ultrasensory, futuristic experience of fashion media with its mix of commercial commissions and editorial work for the likes of Nike, Linda Farrow, RIMOWA, LVMH, Tank magazine and Novembre magazine.

Digital Materials by Ada Sokol

Sokol compares her process to digital sculpture and believes in the importance of connecting to real-world materials. ‘To achieve photo-realism in 3D visualisations, you need to be sensitive to everything that is surrounding you,’ she explains. ‘To create materials that are similar to real ones, you need to touch them and know how they behave in different conditions.’ In a recent commission for Gentle Monster x Moooi, the designer created a visual campaign that channels a ‘modern playfulness on ancient mysticism’, in which her digital materials appear to defy the laws of physics. Combining photorealistic imagery with digitally engineered motion, the result is alchemical.


Megumi for Vogua Italia

Megumi Matsuno, The Beauty Manipulator, UK

Originally an aspiring sculptor, Megumi Matsuno transitioned from an art form of relative permanence to one of ultimate temporality, as she pursed manipulation and expression through another medium: the human face. When she moved to Paris from Japan and enrolled on a nine-month make-up course, Matsuno was exposed to beauty standards that were very different to the ones she had been brought up with – and adopted a much more experimental approach.

Working across commercial and editorial fashion shoots, Matsuno is able to create a wide range of effects, from cosmic, ethereal beauty to visceral, repellent manipulations. From the gruesome to the beautiful, her looks encompass everything from vibrant green reptilian scales and lubricious, oozing lips to a gelatinous epidermis and soft, powdery colour blends. Matsuno doesn’t shy away from enhancing her work through tactility and texture.


Fading Prints by Hanna Hansdotter

Hanna Hansdotter, The Glass Magician, Sweden

Contemporary glass-blower Hanna Hansdotter takes an explorative approach to a heritage craft. Trained in traditional glass-blowing, Hansdotter began combining this expertise with alternative approaches and pop-culture references, challenging the perception of what blown glass should be. A craft discipline that is arguably the most scientific and rigorous is repositioned as an unpredictable medium, producing unique pieces though a serendipitous process.

In her Fading Prints and Quilted Prints collections, Hansdotter uses an elaborately decorative metal mould to guide the form of her vessels. The cooling glass morphs and warps until it becomes something far removed from the shape suggested by the mould. The resulting vases are surreal entities that mimic organic mutations and invite exploration through touch. Hansdotter subverts the aesthetics of the material even further by applying unorthodox finishes in hyper-real colours and liquid metallics.


Words → Amy Radcliffe

Quilted Prints by Hanna Hansdotter