Designing Materials Experiences 

1° Semester, Elective Course, 2015-2016

Politecnico di Milano


As known from previous studies, materials are key actors inside the design process. In fact, materials not only are able to give the right shape to artefacts, assuring and solving its function, but, they can influence and enhance the relationship between objects, users and life cycles as well. Materials determine the experience and suggest behaviours. If a designer learns all the possibilities that materials and processes allow, surely it will be capable not only to design with them, but to profit from all the materials experiences that are possible to embody in products during their lifetime and beyond.

The course allows students to think around the possibilities of designing with materials with total consciousness and to enrich their own knowledge and competences with the emerging materials experiences in the actual design context. The students will be allowed to have hands-on experience with materials, challenging themselves with the proposed exercises. In addition, the theoretical and most relevant topics and themes of the discipline, the meanings and the inspirational areas around the materials and design practices will be presented.

The course will be divided into two parts. The first 5 lectures will focus on the concept of DIY Materials and their taxonomy. The students will be challenged to design and self-produce a material responding to specific qualities and characteristics. The subsequent 5 lectures instead will focus on the Material Driven Design Method to design meaningful materials experiences through the finding of significant applications for the self-produced materials in the first part of the course.


Learning Objective

  • Learn the emerging method of Do-It-Yourself Materials with an experimental approach
  • Understanding the different tools and techniques by direct contact with a material source
  • Create a product concept starting from the material

  • Key Questions

  • Is it possible to develop materials without scientific knowledge?
  • What is the role of design in the materials development?
  • What is the difference between physical properties of materials and expressive-sensorial qualities of materials?
  • What is the future of materials?