The Royal College of Art, London, UK, 2007-2010
The Snoezelen® or Multi-Sensory Environment (MSE) is a unique concept that was developed in the 1970's in response to the limited range of relaxation and leisure facilities available for children and adults with multiple disabilities. The MSE is furnished with sensory props that are designed to stimulate the primary senses.
This practice-led research combines historical research into the evolution of the design of the MSE with an experiential account of current practice. The research is interdisciplinary, integrating ideas from occupational therapists, educationalists, designers, architects and new media artists, who have explored the areas of sensory processing, environmental wellbeing, leisure and play.
The physical outcome of the research is a collection of 'occupational textiles', a series of non-age specific sensory props for health-care practitioners and families to use as tools to encourage touch, play, movement, and as cues for conversation and non-verbal communication. Independent of power sockets, wires and switches, it is the touch and motor movement of the participant that activates the unique behaviours of each prop, promoting independence and a sense of control for the participant.