The Critical Exploration of Materials for the Design Project: A Method of Analysis below the Levels of Consciousness

By Beatrice Lerma and Claudia De Giorgi.

Published by The Design Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The research field is the culture of design material, characterized by particular attention to environmental and perceptual aspects: materials are tested using non-verbal methods.
According to the most advanced orientation of design culture, the choice of materials suitable for a given project should be dealt with in the meta-planning phase, which is thus extended and charged with meaning: materials have a recognized weight in the project, they support its technical functions and at the same time create its personality.
In the ongoing process of innovation in the field of materials research, the topic of the perception of materials has become central; their expressive-sensorial properties, elegant and accentuated, have acquired growing importance: the way man perceives materials and evaluates his experience of them is increasingly taken into consideration. This new, complex approach to the project, and in particular to the metaproject, is organized through the critical exploration of materials and is completed with the support of virtual reality and prototyping. Real and virtual models of design proposals showing maps of the materials to be evaluated are presented to the client, using both traditional and new methods.
The decisions made by the designers according to technical criteria, costs, the sensorial and environmental characteristics, can in fact be evaluated, even unconsciously, through the use of non-verbal methods and equipment, such as the eye-tracking machine, a hypothetical means of final verification. Eye-tracking offers important elements regarding the capacity of the product/interface to attract/hold or to rebuff the attention of the observer: it is based on the registration of what a subject observes or ignores when deciding to take a given product into consideration. The analysis is applicable with equivalent efficacy to real and virtual prototypes: an interesting move towards virtuality thanks to the optimization of costs offered by the equipment.
The paper will deal with explaining the innovative method of evaluation of materials for the metaproject, with particular awareness of perception and ecocompatibility in a case study on car seats.

Keywords: Materials, Perception, Metaproject, Evaluation

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.81-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.312MB).

Beatrice Lerma

Research Fellow, DIPRADI - Department for Architectural and Industrial Design, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy

Ph.D. in Industrial Production System Engineering and Industrial Design at the Politecnico di Torino; Research Fellow, DIPRADI - Architectural and Industrial Design Department, Politecnico di Torino, Italy. She is in charge of the management of the Innovative Materials Library of the Degree Course in Industrial Design at the Politecnico of Torino (scientific responsible: Claudia De Giorgi) and she is collaborating on research projects about innovative materials for industrial design and ecoefficiency indicators for materials selection. She is assistant lecturer at the Course of Materials and components for Industrial Design of the Degree Course in Industrial Design at the Politecnico di Torino and teacher of the course in Technology of Materials at the Scuola Politecnica di Design SPD in Milan.

Claudia De Giorgi

researcher, DIPRADI - Department of Architectural and Industrial Design, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy

The main field of research regards design with a “human centered” approach, as to say, focusing on real human needs: functional, relational and perceptive ones. The aim is to innovate products by deepening contents and knowledge about project materials. This knowledge is focused on materials and innovative processes (or new use of materials and traditional processes) and their possible uses, beyond the excitement over the latest trend. The approach can be applied in research-actions operations and can be applied for monitoring process and guidance for the local design system in Piedmont. She is the curator, with Claudio Germak, of the exhibition Piemonte Torino Design, which promotes worldwide Piedmont’s design excellences, also through seminars organized in collaboration with local Universities.

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