Huidhonger (Longing for Touch)
- Product Design
Huidhonger is a project that emerged from the change in our social situation when the Netherlands went into intelligent lockdown in March 2020. I wanted to relieve a bit of one’s ‘huidhonger’ or longing for touch. After intensive research into touch and materials, Chum was developed. Chum is a modular plushie for adults. With an array of modules, people can adjust Chum to their needs in times of ‘huidhonger’.
In March 2020, the Netherlands went into a ‘smart lockdown’, this meant everyone had to stay at home as much as possible and were asked to limit their social contacts to the people they live with. Since there is a big group of people living on their own, this meant for this group that their whole physical social life was upside down. Already soon, articles were published in the media about this. This topic got my attention and reminded me of similar situations for people who are dealing with illness and due to that having to limit their social contacts.
This limited amount of physical contact, can make the longing for it grow. In Dutch we call it Huidhonger. Physical contact is one of the basic needs for humans and the lack of it is something that can affect the quality of life for a person greatly. I have researched the topic of ‘huidhonger’ via articles and scientific research, but also used the tools from the project ‘Do you know what you like?’ and a diary study to make lots of samples and tests based on the outcomes of this.
Looking at what I wanted to reach with my project, bringing people ease for their longing of touch, I ended up deciding to make an object that can be adjusted to personal needs and can be used at home.
This object became Chum. The basis is an 80cm tall plushie that contains several textures to stimulate touch and has connections for the modules. The modules can stimulate the touch, smell, sound and vision senses. The modules would all be sold separately, enabling the owner to really adjust Chum to their needs and likes.
For example, the smell module would be available in several options such as lavender for a calming effect, citrus for an uplifting effect or cinnamon for a nostalgia effect. For touch there is a wide variety of hard and soft, temperature changing and still and moving objects.
This gives the owner the opportunity to change Chum from day to day, and expand the options over time. There will always be modules that speak to someone.