Re:Connect and the Footsie slippers is a speculative design project developed by Emilie Cohrt as her final project for the MA Footwear degree at London College of Fashion. The project explores how the foot can be a primary site for interpersonal connectivity and intimacy in an age of globalised social structures and digitally mediated communication. By relying more and more on technology to enable us to connect with each other, we lose a wealth of communicative detail that makes us feel truly close and connected. Details like social touch - a way of communicating fundamental not just to human wellbeing and health, but to that of almost all mammals. But social touch is missing from current digital communication. As a result of these multi-sensory elements missing in communications technologies, a paradox arises: we have never been more connected, yet we have also never been more lonely.
Re:Connect aims to instigate debate and deliberate decision making about the extent and role of technology in our future human-to-human interactions. The prototype developed has the functionality to be a means for long-distance couples to exchange the affectionate touches of playing footsie on the sofa, and thus feel a deeper sense of closeness, resolving the problem of physical distance and re-enabling an important social interaction. The Footsies represent a future wherein technology has been used to solve the problems of physical and interpersonal distance, wherein everyone has a technological means of experiencing meaningful connections with others. This envisioned future can help us understand how our technological present is effecting our everyday interactions and consequently our health and wellbeing. It lets us rethink our digital interactions and, by questioning them, actively choose what we want both the present and the future to be.