Shalini Sahoo

PhD Work

harmonising Human Material Interaction (hHMI) in Interiors of Public Transportation

This research is an effort to analyse, understand and enhance the quality of Human-Material-Interaction in interiors of public transportation, aiming to generate a rational understanding of elements that contribute to the ‘wellbeing’ for humans in these shared public spaces. In this context wellbeing is understood as balancing the physical, the psychological and the emotional state of the commuters. Providing passengers a quality of life they otherwise reserve for leisure. Through self-driving cars, mobility apps, shared taxis etc. society is moving towards a paradigm shift in the way we relate to mobility. The private vehicle ownership is disappearing from the urban landscape; the future of mobility is collaborative utilisation. Shared interiors of public transport will gain increasing importance.

Any well-designed environment can become a strong influence on what people think and do. Interiors of urban transportation systems are intersection points for culture, society, technology and environment. harmonising Human-Material-Interaction (hHMI) in this space, has the potential to balance and de-stress the human component in it. Thus transforming the passive commutation time into a time of relaxation contributing to the general upliftment of the urban life experience. 

More than addressing the established issues of sustainability, this investigation is human centred. Grounded in a vision of ethical design, it is looking at the potential for design to enhance the qualities of public realm. An enclosed space in movement is a complex composition of proportions, materials, surfaces, colour, lighting, sounds and smells. How can these elements be arranged in sensitive ways to create a space which positively influences the state of being? The research will be an in-depth study of their semantics – indicating, symbolic functions and its connection to formal aesthetic aspects. The outcome will be guidelines, defining parameters to induce a ‘quality-of-life’ experience in the urban system of mass transit.


  • PhD


    School of Design


    Intelligent Mobility, 2016–

  • Shalini Sahoo's work spans from doing material and colour innovations for the automobile industry in Germany, to working as a barefoot designer with craftspeople in India and Pakistan. Apart from this, she teaches design in various universities in Germany and in the Indian sub-continent. In her works Shalini always seeks to understand the larger metaphor. Her intrinsic capacity to map the coherent elements of a project at the macro level and use this as the basic structure for finding solutions has helped her develop the method of Systems Design Analysis (SDA). She also holds a diploma in textile design from the National Institute of Design (NID) in India. It was NID that inculcated in her a sound understanding for design principles. Her Ethical Dyeing Manifesto presented at the UNESCO Conference for natural dyes (2006) is one of the first widely accepted regulation for integrative natural dyeing.

  • Degrees

  • Diploma in Textile Design, National Institute of Design, India, 2005
  • Experience

  • Lead Colour & Trim Designer, Johnson Controls GmbH, Burscheid, Germany, Automotive Experience, Product Business Unit: Trim & Fabrics, Berlin, Germany / La Roque d‘Olmes, France, 05. 2009 - 03. 2012; Visiting faculty, Department of fashion design, Textile Technology, University of the Arts, Bremen, Germany 10. 2007 - 03. 2008; Senior Product Designer, Casamoda GmbH, Oldenburg, Germany. 07.2012 - 09.2013; Visiting faculty, Department of textile design, Design Process, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, Pakistan. 01. 2007 - 01.2014; Designer, Sea Designworks: Trends, Research & Material Design, Bremen & Munich, Germany. 09. 2013 - 09.2016
  • Awards

  • Crespi International Trophy, Nominated, 2003; Ford Foundation, Scholarship, 2000 - 2003; Arts and Humanities Research Council award AH/L503782/1, London Doctoral Centre for Design; Heinrich Böll Stiftung Scholarship
  • Conferences

  • Design Process behind a Material Culture Research, Materielle und Visuelle Kultur, Carl von Ossietzky Universität, Oldenburg, Germany, 2014; What is Material Culture Research in Design? Department of Integrated Design - University of Moratuwa, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2014; Systems Design Analysis, in the Forum aktuelle Tendenzen in Design, Materielle und Visuelle Kultur, Carl von Ossietzky Universität, Oldenburg, Germany, 2009; Ethical dyeing and the tribes of northeast India, Paper presentation, UNESCO, 2006
  • Publications

  • The story of the last surviving Indigo Dyers, Craft Council of India, 2006; Ethics, Leaves and Colours, Craft Council of India, 2006; Natural Dyeing on Eri with flora of Assam, TAGS (Also translated in Assamese and Hindi), 2006