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ICS Materials. Designing with and for interactive, connected, and smart materials

Mr Stefano Parisi | Politecnico di Milano (PhD Student)

ICS Materials. Designing with and for interactive, connected, and smart materials

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Materials are key players in the design process. Not only they can give the right shape to artifacts and assure its function, but they can also influence and enhance the relationship between objects, users and life cycles. Materials determine the experience and suggest behaviors. If a designer learns all the possibilities that materials and processes allow, it will be capable not only to design with them but to exploit all the materials experiences that are possible to embody in products during their lifetime and beyond. In this talk, we introduce Designing Materials Experiences, a course for Master students, focused on DIY-Materials, at the School of Design of Politecnico di Milano. We present and discuss the structure of the course, its methodology and supporting tools, and the results. In this course, the material, its process, and its physicality become the subject of the design activity. By working with DIY-Materials, students can directly explore matter and create their materials, rather the selecting existing ones to embody into a design idea. Students acquire experience by working directly with the matter and its qualities, through the "hands-on" practice of Material Tinkering. Through this, the design of materials become an explorative process of learning, characterized by unexpected and surprising discoveries. The course also proposes to transfer a critical vision about materials as relevant actors in contemporary life and try to launch challenges for a constant rethinking of the material culture. The working methodology consists of a mix of theoretical inputs, interventions from international experts, and development of the materials through methods and tools. In particular, we present the course's results, which are the creation of material samples and the definition of their formulation, qualities, material identity, and experiential patterns. Those patterns are the starting point to suggest future scenarios of application.