Design Research (MPhil) (PhD)
Kensho Miyoshi received his PhD from the Royal College of Art, London in 2020 for his contribution of the design programme centring on kinaesthetic empathy for designing the movement of objects.
Holding an MEng and BEng in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Tokyo, Kensho has engaged in aerospace-related interdisciplinary projects, such as Phenox (autonomous interactive drones) and ARTSAT (satellite for art use), and, as a creative practitioner, has designed kinetic sculptures and installations, such as Ripple Clock and Puwants.
After working at the DLX Design Lab of the University of Tokyo, he has been awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science from April 2020, and is currently based in Tokyo. Kensho also co-leads the activity of a Tokyo-based experimental design studio, Studio POETIC CURIOSITY.
While highly advanced digital artefacts provide magic-like technology, their heavy reliance on our visual perception and cognitive ability paralyses the sensory appreciation of our body. To counterbalance the status-quo, we need to question the current obsession with digital innovation and seek an alternative, bodily-informed perspective for design. Through my practice-based research, I am exploring how to connect our kinaesthetic senses to the design of tangible artefacts, especially focusing on the aesthetic quality of the movement of objects, in order to regain the freedom of the senses of our body.
The primary theme for my research is kinaesthetic empathy, kinetic sensations experienced while observing an object in motion, and the way in which this phenomenon could be useful for designers to explore the aesthetic quality of physical movement of design objects. My PhD concentrates on the situations where people perceive virtual kinaesthetic sensations while observing the movement of an everyday object without necessarily anthropomorphising it, such as the stiffness experienced while watching ticket barriers creaking, or the sensation of floating softness arising from observing a curtain waving in a gentle breeze.
My thesis is currently turned into a book 'Designing Objects in Motion: Exploring Kinaesthetic Empathy' and planned to be published worldwide by Birkhäuser in December 2020.
Ticket Barrier Machines in London Underground Stations
Let us have a look at an example. Puwants - Lily of the Valley is an installation of kinetic sculptures created by myself. Made of thin transparent polyethylene terephthalate, the flexible sculptures stand and move as a result of the buoyancy of air bubbles trapped in their bodies. A close look at the sculpture reveals a subtle and complex transition in the velocity and the path of the movements. When the petal (head) hits the lowest point of the path, it gradually decelerates and the ‘stem’ looks as if it is resisting a weight and trying to lift it up again. The head shows a tiny yet visible impulsive accent in releasing the air bubbles, which reminds me of the sense of extending the elbow and wrist swiftly in throwing a frisbee. In this way, looking at the movement of an object can allow us to project kinaesthetic sensations. Several observations and pilot survey led me to form the following research questions.
However, these questions were not explicit at the outset but formulated through research. In reality, there were many small questions that emerged one after another as the research moves forward such as: What is the difference between kinaesthetic empathy with the movements of humans and those of non-anthropomorphic objects? What kind of tools can enable designers to harness kinaesthetic movements?
Some of these questions derive from multiple disciplines and theories. But these subjects were dealt with on a selective basis; my PhD’s contribution is not to be claimed in all these
fields but it lies in bringing these pieces of knowledge together to serve my enquiry.
15 Kinaesthetic Elements — Motion graphic by Albert Barbu
PhD Thesis in Motion
** This content is a substantially shortened summary of the PhD research – further details are available in the literature in ‘Further References’. **
'Designing Objects in Motion: Exploring Kinaesthetic Empathy' (2020 December) — Click 'Launch Project' for further details of this book.
Miyoshi, Kensho (2020 December; in print). Designing Objects in Motion: Exploring Kinaesthetic Empathy. Basel: Birkhäuser.
II. Conference papers
Miyoshi, Kensho (2019). ‘Puppetry as an alternative approach to designing kinesthetic movements’. Proceedings of the 4th Biennial Research Through Design Conference, 19-22 March 2019.
Miyoshi, Kensho (2018). ‘Where Kinesthetic Empathy meets Kinetic Design’. In: Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Movement and Computing (MOCO ’18). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 32, 1–4.
III. Journal article
Miyoshi, Kensho (2019) ‘What allows us to kinesthetically empathize with motions of non-anthropomorphic objects?’ The Journal of Somaesthetics. Vol. 4 No. 2 (2019): Somaesthetics and Technology.
Puwants - Lily of the Valley. Photography by Takahiro Tsushima — Click 'Launch Project' to visit the sales page
- The work will be delivered in a disassembled form, i.e. a glass fish tank, sculpture, and air pump separately.
- The following materials which appear in the photography are not included: water, sand, concrete base.
- Instruction for setup will be provided; it is the buyer's responsibility to assemble the work by following the simple setup instruction (e.g. pour water into the fish tank, connect the sculpture to an air pump) and to maintain the work.
- Shipping fee and insurance are included in the price. However, shipping to a non-UK address may require an additional fee for shipping and insurance.
Video available: https://vimeo.com/436699103
Go to the sales page: Click the image of the work or visit the following URL: