Professor Kristina Höök
Photo: Tobias Ohls

Professor Kristina Höök got her insignia as honorary doctor


Kristina Höök, professor of interaction design at the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, got her insignia as a honorary doctor at the IT Faculty, University of Gothenburg, for the year 2022.

Professor Kristina Höök at KTH is an internationally recognized researcher who has received many national and international grants and awards. She is known for her work with social navigation and more recently for having developed important knowledge in design theory, including by starting from the body in design work. Kristina's work in putting Sweden on the map in human-computer interaction strengthens University of Gothenburg's development in the field.

Interview with Professor Kristina Höök:

How would you describe your research area?

– I work with Soma Design. It is a design approach where body and thought are seen as a unit – a soma – a non-dualistic design approach. The design we create is based on the fact that we can develop our ability to appreciate ourselves and the world around us aesthetically through all our senses. The emphasis is on a shift from language and symbol-oriented interaction with computers and other technology to aesthetic, bodily, experienced interaction. We often use materials that come close to our body, such as shape-changing materials that are worn directly on the body.

How did you end up in your current field?

Professor Kristina Höök at the Conferment of Doctoral Degrees
Professor Kristina Höök at the Conferment of Doctoral Degrees at University of Gothenburg, March 2023.
Photo: Adam Ihse

– Already 20 years ago, we were working on putting sensors on the body. But I was always dissatisfied with how the interaction reduced the body to some kind of machine that could be measured and disciplined. I was looking for theories and practices that help us put meaning-making, experience, pleasure, aesthetics and ethics first. In areas such as art, dance, music and movement, I found other ways to understand what it is to be human.

– Somaesthetics by the philosopher Richard Shusterman became an important influence for me, but also a deeper understanding of how human cognition can never be separated from the body or from the surrounding reality. We saw and experienced ourselves, the world and possibilities for design in a completely different way when we dared to experience through movement, smell and touch instead of focusing solely on visual and language-based interaction.

What does your collaboration with the Department of Applied IT look like?

– For many years, we have had an exchange through visits and people who worked with us and then ended up in Gothenburg or vice-versa.

Your reaction when you were appointed honorary doctor?

– I was very surprised and very happy! I am so happy to be able to form a closer bond with my researcher friends in Gothenburg.

Any plans for the future?

– I am very interested in the other side of the coin: not only aesthetics but also ethics. How do we experience ethics on a non-dualistic, somatic level? Can we understand and use it in our design processes?