Update you browser

For the best experience, we recommend you update your browser. Visit our accessibility page for a list of supported browsers. Alternatively, you can continue using your current browser by closing this message.

Bruna is a design researcher and practitioner whose research engages with and develops a deeper understanding of the sensory characterisation of materials.

Bruna holds a PhD in Design Products (Royal College of Art), and a BA in Fashion & Textiles (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil). She is interested in our experience of materials in both physical and digital environments, focusing – though not exclusively – on textiles, and investigates how to support designers in exploring and expressing the multisensory aspects of this rich experience.  

Her latest research grew out of the Emerging Materials section of the Materials Experience Lab at the Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands. Alongside this, she has led one establishing the project Material BA-Z (a materials library and lab) at the Belas Artes University in São Paulo, Brazil. Bruna is engaged with the Micro-Phenomenology research community, and contributes to the Micro-Phenomenology Lab. The dissemination of her work occurs through talks and publications, mostly within the design and human-computer interaction communities, and also through workshops and teaching in diverse institutions such as Royal College of Art, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts Bremen, Delft University of Technology, Design Academy Eindhoven and Belas Artes University.

Research projects


More information

Through her research practice, Bruna has approached the human sensory experience of materials in order  to understand how people experience a particular material, focusing on human sensorimotor engagement;  to stimulate novel material applications and new design research approaches, from this human sensory perspective; and to support the emerging design and consumer practices.

This experience has provided her with with a set of skills and a research network that enables her to support the Burberry Material Futures Research Group in a range of research on materials experience that includes the following: 

  • characterisation of experience – combining technical (objective testing) and experiential (subjective assessments) characterisation, to produce frameworks, models and methods that contribute to scientific rigour
  • elicitation of experience – through researching in-the-wild and/or applying human-centred design or phenomenology approaches, Bruna contributes to uncovering fine-grained aspects of the experience of materials, which can be applied to the development of tools for 
  • designing into experience – Bruna support the Group in contributing new designs and/or design approaches that foster creativity

Bruna works to weave together the design challenges that the BMFRG is focused on (more sustainable materials, transform consumer experience, and advance manufacturing for the benefit of industry and the wider community), with her knowledge and experience on materials from technical, phenomenological, cultural and design-practice perspectives. With these methodological approaches, technology and application, she supports the group to conceptualise new research spaces, particularly towards transforming consumer experience. 

  • PhD grant awarded by CNPq within the Science without Borders programme (2012–16)
  • RCA Student-led fund, granted by the Research Methods Course to organise workshops ‘Relational Materials: From Material to Experience & From Experience to Material’ (2015)
  • RCA  Student-led fund, granted by the Research Methods Course to organise the seminar and workshop ‘Super-feelers: materials and design sense making’ (2014)
  • PDCE Grant awarded by IPT-SP for a Visiting Fellowship to London College of Fashion for six months to collaborate with the Digital Sensoria project. (2009)

  • Best concept or narrative in Human Centred Design, on the annual Human Prize Centred Design Institutes PhD research prize competition, Human Centred Design Institute (2013)
  • Best poster presentation, IV ABEP-UK Conference (2013)

Multi-situated Materials (2017–18)

This is a cross design-digital theme, on which I was the lead researcher, helping to build a cornerstone of the Materials Experience Lab (supervised by Dr Elvin Karana) in collaboration with the Connected Everyday Lab (supervised by Professor Elisa Giaccardi). Here I have extended the knowledge from my PhD research work around embodied experience and sensory perception, and brought this closer to the Materials Experience approach, to develop a novel proposal for product development around the concept of ‘Multi-Situated Materials’. This work was fully funded by Delft University of Technology – more information on the Materials Experience Lab website. The latter offers a theoretically grounded approach and encourages a materials perspective in design to enable products to be open, to remain appropriate, and to continue to generate value over time by softening the boundaries of objects, materials and people.

Digital Sensoria (2009–12)

During the Digital Sensoria project (Prof Sharon Baurley PI), I worked with computer science academics and researchers (UCL, Heriot Watt) to develop the iShoogle multi-modal touch app. The iShoogle is an interactive digital textile swatch that allows for synchronised movement and visual feedback, accordingly to the interaction with the video displayed on a touchscreen device (Orzechowski, 2016). We studied Human Computer Interaction (HCI) aspects of gestures, affordances and congruence (Atkinson et al., 2013). Through a design research approach, we explored the gestures used by non-experts to assess textiles through hand tactile interaction (I worked closely with RA Douglas Atkinson in developing and conducting such studies), and from the observations we devised techniques to create an interactive simulation of digital textile handling for a touch-based display (this included designing filming and lighting methods to bring the textile tactile properties alive in touchscreen interactive media).    


Baurley, S., Petreca, B., Selinas, P., Selby, M. and Flintham, M., 2020, February. Modalities of expression: Capturing embodied knowledge in cooking. In Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (pp. 785-797).

Costa, S.A., Céron, A.A., Petreca, B.B. and Costa, S.M., 2020. Fibers of cellulose sugarcane bagasse with bromelain enzyme immobilized to application in dressing. SN Applied Sciences, 2(2), p.285.

Petreca, B., Saito, C., Baureley, S., Atkinson, D., Yu, X. and Berthouze, N., 2019. Radically relational tools: A design framework to explore materials through embodied processes. International Journal of Design, 13(2), pp.7-20.

Price,  S.,  Mackley, K.L.,  Jewitt, C., Huisman,  G., Petreca, B., Berthouze,  N., Prattichizzo, D.,  and Hayward, V., 2018. Reshaping Touch Communication: An Interdisciplinary Research Agenda. In Extended Abstracts of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA '18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Paper W17, 8 pages. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3170427.3170603

Petreca, B., Saito, C., Yu, X., Bianchini-Berthouse, N., Brown, A., Cox, J., Glancy, M., Bauerley, S. (2017). Radically Relational: Using Textiles As A Platform To Develop Methods For Embodied Design Processes. In Alive. Active. Adaptive: Proceedings of International Conference on Experiential Knowledge and Emerging Materials (EKSIG 2017), June 19-20, Delft, the Netherlands, pp. 261-274.

Petreca, B., 2017. ‘Giving body to digital fashion tools.’ In: Broadhurst & Price Eds. Digital Bodies: Creativity and technology in the Arts & Humanities. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Petreca, B.B., 2016. An understanding of embodied textile selection processes & a toolkit to support them (Doctoral dissertation, Royal College of Art).

Petreca, B.B., 2016. Reflexões sobre o design de experiências materiais nos contextos físico e digital. DATJournal Design Art and Technology, 1(2), pp.31-41.

Petreca, B., 2016. Können wir digitale Textilien fühlen? Designforschung, Körpererfahrung und ein Ausblick auf zukünftige Technologien“, in: Jana Herwig, Alexandra Seibel (Hrsg.), Texture Matters: Der Tastsinn in den Medien – haptisch/optisch 2 (Maske und Kothurn. Internationale Beiträge zur Theater-, Film und Medienwissenschaft, vol. 61/1), Wien: Böhlau.

Petreca, B., Bianchi-Berthouze, N., Baurley, S., Tajadura-Jimenez, A ., 2016. Investigating nuanced sensory experiences in textiles selection. In: the 2016 ACM International Joint Conference, 2016, Heidelberg. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing Adjunct - UbiComp '16. New York: ACM Press, p. 989.

Atkinson, D.; Baurley, S.; Petreca, B.; Watkins, P.; Bianchi- Berthouze, N., 2016. The tactile triangle: a design research framework demonstrated through tactile comparisons of textile materials. Journal of Design Research.

Petreca, B., Bianchi-Berthouze, N., Baurley, S., 2015. How Do Designers Feel Textiles? In: Proceedings ACII’ 15. IEEE.

Petreca, B.; Atkinson, D.; Bianchi-Berthouze, N.; Furniss, D.; Baurley, S. The future of textiles sourcing: exploring the potential for digital tools. The Colors Of Care, the 9th International Conference on Design And Emotion. October 6-10, 2014. 

Petreca, B. Towards Experiencing Digital Textiles: Design Research, Embodied Experience, and a Glimpse of Future Technologies. In: TEXTURE MATTERS - The Haptical and Optical in Media. International Conference organised in collaboration by Universität Wien, The Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and the MAK Vienna. 2nd and 3rd June 2014 at MAK.

Petreca, B.; Bianchi-Berthouze, N.; Baurley, S.; Watkins, P. A.; Atkinson, D. An embodiment perspective of affective touch behaviour in experiencing digital textiles. In: Workshop on Mediated Touch and Affect (MeTA) , in conjunction with ACII'13, 2013, Geneva. Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII 2013), 2013. Author URL.

Atkinson, D.; Orzechowski, P.; Petreca, B.; Bianchi-Berthouze, N.; Watkins, P.; Baurley, S.; Padilla, S.; Chantler, M. Tactile perceptions of digital textiles. In: the SIGCHI Conference, 2013, Paris. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI '13. New York: ACM Press. p. 1669-1678.

Costa, S. A.; Marcicano, J. P.; Petreca, B. B.; Costa, S. M. Medical textiles: product development inspired by nature, 2012, Guimarães - Portugal. Proceedings CIMODE 2012 - 1º Congresso Internacional de Moda e Design. Guimarães : Bernardo Providencia, 2012. p. 2637-2647.

Petreca, B. B.; Pahl, R.  Evaluation of the physical and comfort properties of cotton fabrics in different constructions, as the part of IPT in the collaboration with the project Digital Sensoria: design through digital perceptual experience. 2011. (Research Report).

Petreca, B. B.; Arduin, R. H.; Luiz, D. M. O Refugo da Moda: Ensaio sobre a saturação do consumo na capital paulista. In: XXIII Congresso Nacional de Técnicos Têxteis, 2009, São Paulo. Anais do XXIII Congresso Nacional de Técnicos Têxteis, 2009.

Other outcomes

Art Direction and Costume Design for the performance ‘Cosmos & Axis’ by Projeto Co, 2016, directed by Paula Petreca. Funded by PROAC (Programme for Cultural Action from the State of São Paulo, Brazil)

Costume Design for the short film A Historia de Angelo, 2009, directed by Diogo Cronemberger. Prizes: 3aMostra Independente do Audiovisual Universitário - MIAU (GO/BR); 5o Festival Latino-Americano de São Paulo 2010 (SP/BR); Mostra Informativa do 15o Festival Brasileiro de Cinema Universitário (RJ/BR); Mostra Cinema em Curso no 21o Festival Internacional de Curtas-Metragens de São Paulo (SP/BR)

Costume design for play Sintoma (Symptom), 2008, by Cia Luis Louis. Theatre spectacle integrating the Manifesto da Mímica Total (Total Mimic Manifest) – Myriam Muniz prize - Funarte/Petrobrás. Production: Estúdio Luis Louis & Cooperativa Paulista de Teatro, CCSP, Brazil.