Upon showing the diagram of my hypothesis to my thesis class, Bruce mentioned its resemblance to proxemics. Proxemics is a psychological, social-psychological, and anthropological area of study that addresses the use of space in interpersonal communication, usually in regards to the distance between people in conversation. The term was first coined by cultural anthropologist Stuart T. Hall in 1963. Hall notes that the value in studying Proxemics comes from its applicability in evaluation not only the way man interacts with others in his daily life, but also “the organization of space in his house and buildings, and ultimately the layout of his towns.”

Hall’s delimitation are as follows:

Intimate distance for embracing, touching or whispering

  • Close phase – less than 6 inches (15 cm)
  • Far phase – 6 to 18 inches (15 to 46 cm)

Personal distance for interactions among good friends or family members

  • Close phase – 1.5 to 2.5 feet (46 to 76 cm)
  • Far phase – 2.5 to 4 feet (76 to 120 cm)

Social distance for interactions among acquaintances

  • Close phase – 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 m)
  • Far phase – 7 to 12 feet (2.1 to 3.7 m)

Public distance used for public speaking

  • Close phase – 12 to 25 feet (3.7 to 7.6 m)
  • Far phase – 25 feet (7.6 m) or more.



To adapt Hall’s observations for my purposes, here are my delimitations:

Intimate distance for materials applied to products that must touch the body all the time.

  • clothing
  • jewelry
  • wearable technology
    • gadgets
    • medical devices

    Factors to think about…
    Aesthetics tied to Perception: If the object is to be seen by other people and if the object is going to be at constant attention of the user such that they would be self conscious.
    Intention: Is the object suppose to do something in particular, does intention over rule aesthetics and perception?

Personal distance for materials applied to products that we often touch.

  • wallet
  • phone
  • computer – input devices
  • stationery – writing instruments & paper
  • tools
  • furniture
  • floor
  • linens
  • table top objects

Public – Touched by lots of people

  • elevator buttons
  • support poles on subway & buses
  • ATM machines
  • vending machines

Distant – sometimes in contact specific people.

  • internal components of computers/gadgets
  • infrastructual devices, such as radio towers, roads
  • public garbage cans
  • pluming

Out of sight, out of mind

  • building materials (insulation)

Exceptions… when a material comes close to the body but sometimes has another material in the way. e.g. seat belts – usually there is clothing as an intermediary, but if the seat belt is not adjusted correctly or if the user does not wearing a shirt that has a collar, the seat belt touches the skin… sometimes seat belt edge irritates the skin. Other good examples are shoes and gloves.

An interesting article regarding proxemics and branding: Place, space and everything in between: the use of Proxemics in Branding.