Blue Sky Matter

Toward an (In-flight) Understanding of the Sensuousness of Mobilities Design

in Transfers
View More View Less
  • 1 Aalborg University
  • | 2 Royal Roads University
Restricted access


In this article we present a theoretical framework for an understanding of the relationship between the material design of mobilities technologies and the multisensorial human body. Situating our work in the emerging field of “mobilities design” within the broader so-called mobilities turn, we focus on two very different aircraft types and their design (the large passenger jet Boeing 737 and the small propeller aircraft DHC-2) in order to explore the sensuousness of in-flight experience and atmosphere. We focus on the interior design of the aircraft as well as on their technical capacities, and end with a conclusion that off ers a flat ontological view of mobilities design. We argue that according the material design of mobilities technologies must be inscribed on equal terms with the sensing human subject if we are to claim that we have reached a better understanding of how mobility feels.

Contributor Notes

Ole B. Jensen is a professor of urban theory in the Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology, Aalborg University, Denmark. His main research interests are mobilities theory, situated mobilities, and mobilities design. He is the author of Staging Mobilities (Routledge, 2013), and Designing Mobilities (Aalborg University Press, 2014), the editor of the four-volume collection Mobilities (Routledge, 2015) and coauthor (with Ditte Bendix Lanng) of Mobilities Design: Urban Designs for Mobile Situations (Routledge, 2016).

Phillip Vannini is a professor in the School of Communication & Culture at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC, Canada, and Canada Research Chair in Public Ethnography. He is the author/editor of thirteen books, including the recent Off the Grid: Re-Assembling Domestic Life (Routledge, 2014), and Non-Representational Methodologies (Routledge, 2015). His interests in the field of mobilities span ferryboats and airplanes, and range from travel practices and experiences to materialities and assemblages.


Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies