Gestural Drawings

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  • Title: Gestural Drawings: A Study of Spatial Data Held in Narrative Design Gestures
  • Author(s): Koumudi Patil, Uday Athavankar
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design
  • Keywords: Spatial Thinking, Narrative Design Gestures, Dimensional Gestures, Spatiographs, Evaluatory Gestures, Complementary Gestures
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2325-1662 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1670 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Patil, Koumudi, and Uday Athavankar. 2019. "Gestural Drawings: A Study of Spatial Data Held in Narrative Design Gestures." The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design 13 (1): 35-55. doi:10.18848/2325-1662/CGP/v13i01/35-55.
  • Extent: 21 pages


This article attempts to explore the affordance of gestures to hold and aid spatial and procedural information of a reflective practice like design. Two sets of experiments were conducted to determine whether a potter is able to gesticulate spatial information of varying complexities, in a procedural sequence. In Experiment 1, the subject made a clay pot on the wheel from a given 2D drawing stimulus. The subject was then blindfolded and asked to gesturally rehearse the procedural sequence of the same clay pot, but in the absence of clay. This led to the construction of a virtual pot. Experiment 2 was conducted in the same order with a stimulus of higher complexity. In the absence of tactile and visual feedback, gestures of the subject could reconstruct not only the shape, but also its development from a lump-like form to a finished pot. It was more surprising to observe that the subject not only reconstructed the spatial tasks, but also evaluated and corrected errors in the virtual pot in a blindfolded condition. Kinaesthetic feedback alone was found to be sufficient to evaluate and correct errors virtually. This article also showed some success in the use of mimetic gestures as concurrent to the thought process. Concurrent gesticulation did not affect the task flow of the work process, its spatial content, or response latency. It suggested that gestures can not only be an accompaniment to speech in think-aloud tasks, but also may demonstrate a potential of independently mapping a thought that holds spatial content. Furthermore, gesture categorisation revealed in this article may draw the study of gestures closer to design practice. Five kinds of Narrative Design Gestures (NDGs) characterised by absence of speech were identified, viz. dimensional gestures; spatiographs; evaluatory, complementary, and non-processual gestures.