Informed Materials: Design with Designed Materials as a Method
Authors: Markus Holzbach, Valentin Brück, Ziyu Zhou
Abstract: Materials link countless design issues we are concerned about the most nowadays: smart technology, digital/analog, user experiences, ecological environment, etc. Thanks to technological evolutions, designers are exploring new hybrid materials, which expands the contemporary design territories. The generation of new materials is due to the transdisciplinary dialogues among design, art, engineering, human-computer interaction, biotechnology, etc., but also thanks to designers' understanding, exploring, and manipulating the properties and attributes of materials in unconventional ways. The new attributes of these material innovations have the potential to subvert the conventional material selection in design, and provide inspiration for new design concepts, functions, and formal potentials. This approach, known as ‘Design with Designed Materials’, emphasises the triggering role of materials, especially for experimental design processes which link with various (artistic) research and creative methods. This paper will describe how the ‘design with designed materials’ approach contributes to new material explorations and innovations, where material can be informed by various aspects： digital, material intrinsic, or a combination of both. By action research, the paper will elaborate on which way ‘design with designed materials’ acts as a methodical approach in design research and design education. This is a transdisciplinary approach that combines the areas of drafting, known from disciplines such as architecture and design, with those of analysis, research and development of materials, which are known from engineering and materials technology. On the basis of an experimental and transdisciplinary approach, new material-based and material-induced design concepts are developed and researched, putting material at the beginning of the design process. This approach was validated in a series of teaching and designing activities, resulting in diverse design works that brought new logic to the use, exploration and transformation of materials, and the generation of design concepts. Four example projects are selected as representatives for describing four characteristics of materials design: properties, structures, interfaces and systems. This paper will share those results, bringing the insight that the new logic of materials is often beyond their original ‘inherent’ properties, which can trigger the new way of concept generations. Materials become carriers of a wide variety of information that enter into a dialogue with their environment, increasingly take on the role of the actual object and become informative and intuitive.
Keywords: Materialdesign, Informed Materials, Material in Design, Technology, Design research.
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