Prototyping Materials Experience: Towards a Shared Understanding of Underdeveloped Smart Material Composites
Bahareh Barati, Elvin Karana, Paul Hekkert


Over the past years, product designers have been involved in collaborative developments of smart material composites early on in the development process, to showcase creative applications of them. In these projects, the way the material is presented to the development team and the extent to which its properties are defined affect how designers understand the potentials and boundaries of the material and envision product applications. In the context of a European project, Light.Touch.Matters, we studied the attempt of designers to understand and prototype underdeveloped composites of thin-film organic light emitting diodes and piezoelectric polymer. Arguing for a collaborative exploration of the unique experiences that such underdeveloped composites unfold, we elaborate on a challenge designers face in understanding and prototyping the experiential qualities, specifically, the dynamic and performative qualities. The paper presents our design approach and complementary tools to overcome this challenge. It further discusses the applicability and limitations of the proposed design supports in the context of collaborative materials development and outlines future research directions.

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