Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Agents of Spatial Influence: Studying design interactions with arrangements and gestures
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
Parsons School of Design
Thesis Supervisor
Jess Irish
Supervisor e-mail
irishj AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Sven Travis
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Design and Technology
Languages Familiar to Author
Chinese, Japanese, Spanish
URL where full thesis can be found
Machine influence, spatial design, implicit interactions, smart furniture, persuasive technology, machine communication.
Abstract: 200-500 words
Humans are implicitly affected by spatial arrangements. From the round table leading us to egalitarian discussions to room partitions that attempt to isolate us as we try to get work done, the ways interiors are arranged, divided, instrumented, and outfitted affects the way we interact in the space. Machines in our environment, meanwhile, interact with us using explicit gestures rather than implicit means. They affect our behavior and perception by using human-like metaphors to communicate with us, giving us an impression of recognition, disagreement, or understanding. How do implicit and explicit influences work together to shape human behavior in the real world? I found a test case where both forms of influences are embodied in the interaction: the humble chair. The way chairs are arranged in a room can signal the purpose of the space, and chair movements can also signal their purpose and agency. Using autonomous chairs, we can both shape behavior by arranging space with certain activity goals in mind, and also affect human interaction by programming human-like movements and action sequences by locomotion and rotation. I investigated implicit influences by using eyetracking to study perceptual attention of humans in a scene with different chair arrangements, and studied chair gestural interactions by getting human feedback on videos of chair-human interactions shown to them on a crowd-sourced data analysis tool. I then tested human response to both the arrangement and interaction capabilities of chairs in a VR experience that allows us to prototype hypothetical scenarios. I found that implicit spatial and explicit gestural factors of autonomic chairs interact with each other in human free-form exploration of a room, demonstrating a prototyping strategy using hypothetical situations and refined mechanical control that are difficult to realize in a spatial design with mechanical agents.