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Texture is the aesthetic quality of any surface, tangible or intangible.

  • Texture is used all the time to tell someone how to use things: delicate textures often indicate that those things should be handled carefully; textures that provide friction can indicate that you should hold something in that place, on that texture.


Texture is often used in environmental way finding. Textured patches before crosswalks indicate to you even without looking that you have reached a new context of walking.

Textured sidewalk


Spoiled and squishy apple

It seems that texture is rarely manipulable enough to provide reliable feedback. Food is an interesting example: when you bite into a fruit the texture or chewiness or mushiness can tell you a lot about its freshness.


Rough is associated with difficulty and greater friction or resistance, smooth with easy and less resistance. This could be used as part of a slow/fast metaphor. As mentioned above, the bumps on the street seem to encourage us to move more slowly and conscientiously. Visually, rough textures might be able to provide us more friction as we scan across a screen.


“My first thought when I consider texture is sandpaper, surely influenced by having sandpaper around so much when I was younger, thinking about how they are rated (lower number=courser paper). The greater implication may be that I understand one texture in terms of how it affects another surface, as a tool.”


As I mentioned above, rough textures seem to call to us to be aware. Smooth textures actually might not encourage reflection (pun intended) in the same way: we interact more passively with smooth surfaces and more conscientiously with rough surfaces.

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