Global Innovation Design (MA)
Sophie Horrocks is a human-centred designer and researcher focusing on improving human quality of life through intuitive and inclusive design of experiences and environments.
Before her Master’s, Sophie worked as a lead designer and researcher at The Fabrick Lab; a Hong-Kong based textile studio, consultancy and ideological lab.
Clients and exhibitions included Kering, Lane Crawford, Design Trust, Salone del Mobile.
MA/MSc Global Innovation Design (RCA & ICL) – Distinction
BA Textile Design (Manchester School of Art) – First Class Honours
Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Central Saint Martins)
Sophie’s work has gained international recognition across commercial and academic platforms; including exhibitions, public speaking and academic publications.
Selected Exhibitions & Events
2020 - Speaker at GID Symposium
2020 - Sensaura Feature, Imperial News
2020 - WIP Show Exhibition, RCA, London
2019 - Guest Speaker, Higashi High School, Yokohama
2018 - Shortlisted, IDEO CoLab, London
2018 - Nock Art Gallery Exhibition, Hong Kong
2017 - GK Gallery Solo Exhibition, Manchester
2016 - New Designers Exhibition, Business Design Centre, London
2013-16 - Academic Scholarship, Manchester School of Art
Wijaya, M., Lau, D., Horrocks, S., McGlone, F., Ling, H., & Schirmer, A. (2019). The Human “Feel” of Touch Contributes to Its Perceived Pleasantness. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000705
Grab a Virtual Coffee with Sophie
School of Design
Global Innovation Design (MA)
Sensaura is an ongoing project looking for partners and collaborators for future development. To date, it has gained widespread interest from stakeholders across fields of urban planning, future mobility, neuropsychology and psychoacoustics.
Please get in touch for more details.
“The design of our world has the power to enable or disable all of us.”
Through GID, Sophie has combined her deep interest in neuropsychology with her skills as a problem-solving designer to provide solutions to global challenges in human health and wellbeing.
Working across three continents has increased her empathy towards local cultures whilst acknowledging human universals. This has enabled the engagement and synthesis of empathy-driven and evidence-based research to inform her practice.
Her practice strives to understand how design can improve human quality of life through delightful and inclusive interventions.
Her design solutions are contextualised within wearable technology, human-computer interaction design, design education and design research. In all her work, the human is placed at the heart of both her design process and outcome.
The course has allowed her to ground ideologies of an inclusive future with a rigorous understanding of actionable steps to take in order to achieve this.
In the U.K. today, nearly 2 million people are living with sight loss. This figure is set to double by 2050. Sensaura is an inclusive design solution to how blind and partially sighted people can navigate the world beyond vision. The wearable design proposes an integrated solution to enable detection, processing and feedback of environmental information needed for navigation. This allows independent, hands-free travel of indoor and outdoor spaces for blind and partially sighted people.
Sensaura’s combined sensors translate visual information into a multi-sensory augmented reality experience of spatial audio and tactile feedback. Test subjects have said this experience gave them a feeling of having an “extra sense”. The wearable could work independently or connect to a wider network of beacons in the environment when GPS is unavailable.
Sensaura applies inclusive design principles. This not only offers a human-centred design solution to the 2 million people in the U.K. currently living with sight loss but has the potential to transform hands-free navigation for millions of people worldwide beyond this user group.
Schematic of Wearable
Optional Finishes of Wearable Earpiece
Optional Finishes of Wearable Neckpiece
User Journey Pt 1
User Journey Pt 2
Size:Jan – Jun 2020
In Collaboration with:
Thomas Pocklington Focus Group Photos and Feedback
Spatial Audio Development
Hardware Design Development
One user stated that they were “only disabled by the design of our environment”. We might not be able to redesign the entire environment, but more easily, we can design our perception of the environment.
Current assistive technologies for navigation have focussed on how to detect and process visual information from the environment. Sensaura takes a different approach by starting with the ideal goal of what a fully inclusive and accessible future would be and working backwards from that; placing the human user at the heart of its process to ensure a desirable and sustainable solution.
Engaging blind and partially sighted users throughout the design process verified the project’s relevance. This included a focus group run in partnership with the Thomas Pocklington Trust. Additionally, deep research into neuropsychology theories of sensory perception and sensing technologies has ensured rigour. This was enhanced by consultations from the Next Generation Neural Interfaces Lab at Imperial.
Size:Jan - Jun 2020
In Collaboration with:
T.I.D.E. Toolkit - Modular Building Blocks
T.I.D.E. Toolkit - Light Tool
T.I.D.E. Toolkit - Colour Palette
T.I.D.E. Toolkit - Abstract Objects
Customer Journey Map
T.I.D.E. (Trauma Informed Design Essentials) aims to democratise design theory to promote the use of trauma-informed design principles for NGOs . The project stemmed from Sophie’s own experience of researching, designing and implementing an interior design project using these principles for an NGO in the Bronx, NY – Barrier Free Living (BFL).
Research shows that our environment can impact both our mental and physical health. What you see, hear and experience at any moment changes not only your mood and stress levels, but how your nervous, endocrine and immune systems work.
Unpleasant environments can cause sadness/ helplessness. This elevates blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension and suppresses your immune system. Pleasing environments can reverse this.
BFL houses and supports people with disabilities who have survived domestic violence. BFL staff asked Sophie to redesign their staff room using Trauma-Informed Design theories, to promote mental and physical wellbeing for staff and residents. The room required a multifunctional design meeting all accessibility needs without permanently changing any of the room’s infrastructure.
Noticing the lack of tools available to NGOs to explain Trauma-Informed Design theory – T.I.D.E. was born. The interactive toolkit hopes to make trauma-informed design theory more accessible. It enables NGOs to physically look and play with their spaces, to maximise the benefit for users. They can easily move and change their design ideas for how to improve their space without having to use expensive digital software.
T.I.D.E. aims to:
1/ inspire NGOs to use trauma-informed design principles
2/ translate design language and theory into practical experiences
3/ recognise budget, manpower and resource limitations of NGOs
Each component of the toolkit is inspired by an interior design theory. For example, the torch and compass replicate the sun moving around at different times of day and year in a small handheld tool.
The service blueprint shows how the toolkit could be developed for commercialisation. This would offer a tailored experience with variable components to meet the context-specific needs of each user.
Size:Sept – Dec 2019
In Collaboration with:
SpaceTime - An Interactive Audio-Tactile Weekly Planner
Designed for Older Generations in the Transition of Losing Sight
Early Prototype Drawings
The Sound of Time
User Journey Pt. 1
User Journey Pt. 2
Reimagining how we interact with time in a spatial manner, beyond vision. An interactive analogue calendar which uses sound and tactility to enable management of weekly tasks and activities. Designed for older generations in the transition of losing sight (population of people living with sight loss set to double by 2050).
Losing your sight is a scary and life changing experience to go through. Research with users highlighted that whilst adapting to new ways of life with little or no vision, it is important to try to maintain as active and social a life as possible to avoid depression and isolation. In order to do this, you need to be able to manage time without using sight.
The only current market options are smartphone audio description or large print paper calendars which require a certain level of sight. SpaceTime fills a market gap to provide a human-centred experience in which to manage and organise time without vision. It draws from historical forms of time-telling; from old sundials to old sailors' watch systems which used sound to communicate time to sailors on their watch.
Blind and partially sighted users were consulted throughout the design process; ensuring a desirable and viable solution. The final prototype was tested at Visions Charity in New York with 10 users.
Size:Sept - Dec 2019
Humanness — a research project Sophie established in partnership with professors from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It investigated the human “feel” of touch and how it contributes to perceived pleasantness. The research was published in 2019 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (American Psychological Association). Sophie set up a cross-disciplinary team to draw from expertise in design, robotics engineering and neuropsychology. The study revealed an overlap in the perceptual properties of touch that we perceive as pleasant and human (e.g. CT-optimal velocity, smooth contact) and showed that both perceptions are strongly positively related.
Morphe — an ongoing research study - run in both Japan and the US with native participants. It investigates the relationships between 3D material perception, culture, language and emotion. Current research into cross-modal material perception does not consider the types of research information into material psychology that would be practical for designers. Morphology (Morphe) is both the study of the form of “things” and the form of words. Morphe provides a library of material research directly related and transferable for designers; enabling more designers to create with greater sensitivity to context, culture and cross modalities.
The Architecture of Touch — Distinction Awarded RCA Dissertation. Touch is a universal language. Yet there is no common language for the subject of touch. The Architecture of Touch aimed to fill that gap – particularly for the field of assistive technology where it can add weighted impact. The paper personified touch to show how it travels from outside the body, through the boundary of our skin and into our brains - drawing on perspectives across design, philosophy, neuroscience throughout this journey. It combines storytelling with science to provide all parties involved (in progressing our understanding of touch) to view perspectives outside of their own; promoting the ability to drive the industry towards a more inclusive and optimal future.
Size:Sept 2018 - Present
In Collaboration with:
Click "Launch Project" to find Press Pack information.
GID Graduates Present: Humanising Technology x More than Human Design