Design brief

Holly Robbins is a PhD Candidate working in the intersection of social sciences, humanities, and design. Her work is on traces, and how they can be utilized in connected objects to make them grow, mature, and evolve with their users. She asked us to design for the following question: ‘How can traces be utilized to support technologies as focal things and practices? and how can physical traces be used to get acces to digital data?’


During this project our design team focused on the digitalization of books and the sentimental value of reading a book made of paper and ink. Designing by doing enabled us to go through a fast paced iterative design proces. Resulting in creative brainstorms, lots of fast and dirty mock-ups, testing and back to brainstorming until the concept Animal Tales was born.

Design vision

When looking back at your childhood books, you can see immediately what your favorietes were. Listening to your mom or dad reading you your bedtime stories or reading them yourself over and over again. This ritual leaves its traces in the pages and reflects the emotional bond with the owner.

Nowadays books get more and more replaced by audio books. Audio files that years later are unable to show you the ripped page caused by you and your brother trying to turn the page at the same time, or a mark from the coffee cup of your mom or simply a worn cover from years of reading.

The interactions between the user and the book are captured in the material


With the design of Animal tales we preserve the sentimental bond that the traces of use represent by giving the audio file a physical form. This allows for traces to be made and recollected.

The book can be placed in the nightstand and when the book is opened the animal who is going to read the story to you blows up. The buttons to operate the audiobook are incorporated in the animal, this way the interactions between the user and the book are captured in the material. Skip a chapter by stroking the animals back or turn the volume up by squeezing in one of it’s ears. Years later the traces will tell their own story.