BreMM19 | Zieba

Anna Zieba
Adam Mickiewicz University | Poznań, Poland

Raw & Pure – the social semiotic approach to texture in contemporary Scandinavian interior design

Among the various styles of contemporary interior design Scandi seems to be one of the most prominent. Whether its popularity comes from functionality or aesthetics, it makes a social semiotician wonder about the meanings that stand behind this style and the values it represents. Our observation of instances of Scandinavian interiors led us to a conclusion that the mode of texture plays a fundamental role in the process of signification employed in this format. The questions that arose at this point concerned the reasons for the thematisation of texture, the process itself and its reception, along with its interplay with other semiotic systems.

As social semiotics, and multimodal discourse analysis in particular, provide us with helpful tools for the examination of visual materials we turned to its methodology for answers. Defining visual texture as “graininess, consistency and concreteness” and acknowledging that
“texturization deploys cues aimed at invoking the emplaced, embodied and overall sensorial qualities of semiotic resources” (Aiello and Pauwels, 2014), we paid special attention to the meanings resting heavily on the objects’ experiential meaning potential and/or provenance.

To perform a qualitative multimodal analysis we collated digital material comprising images with examples of Scandinavian interior design from the 2019 digital IKEA Catalogue. The paradigmatic and parametric model of the meaning-making potential of texture by Djonov and Van Leeuwen (2011) was employed.

Since multimodal analysis is not traditionally aligned with design, there occurred questions of how interiors mean and how the material articulation of various concepts and values affects the reception of and will to identify with the design, which we would like to bring under discussion.


Aiello, G., & Pauwels, L. (2014). Special issue: Difference and globalization. Visual Communication, 13(3), 275-285.

Djonov, E., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2011). The semiotics of texture: From tactile to visual. Visual Communication, 10(4), 541-564.

Kress, G., & Van Leeuwen, T. V. (2001). Multimodal discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication. Edward Arnold: London.

Stephens, K. D., & Hoffman, D. D. (2016). On Visual Texture Preference: Can an Ecological Model Explain Why People Like Some Textures More Than Others?. Perception, 45(5), 527-551.


ANNA ZIEBA is an Assistant Professor and a researcher at the Institute of Linguistics at Adam Mickiewicz University. She holds a PhD in applied linguistics. Her research includes studies in intercultural communication, but her interests have recently shifted to visual communication and multimodality, which allow her to combine her job with her other passions i.e. photography and interior design. A holder of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education Grant and the Clifford and Mary Corbridge Trust Scholarship (Cambridge University).

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