Material Driven Design (MDD): A Method to Design for Material Experiences
Elvin Karana, Bahar Barati, Valentina Rognoli, Anouk Zeeuw van der Laan


Materials research constantly offers novel materials as better alternatives to convention. Functional aptness is taken for granted at the first commercial launch of a new material. Nevertheless, this alone may not be enough for its commercial success and widespread use. The ‘material’ should also elicit meaningful user experiences in and beyond its utilitarian assessment. This requires qualifying the material not only for what it is, but also for what it does, what it expresses to us, what it elicits from us, and what it makes us do. In search of a proper application through such an understanding, material scientists and industries have reached out to designers to guide the development of materials by experiential goals. However, how to design for experiences with and for a material at hand has been poorly addressed to date. In this article, we propose a method, Material Driven Design (MDD), to facilitate designing for material experiences. After explaining the theoretical foundation of the method, an illustrative case is presented—where ‘coffee waste’ is the subject of a design effort to conceive a new product concept. Finally, possible research directions are addressed to bring new insights to the effective application of the MDD method to diverse projects.

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