Competences, tools, services and spaces for enhancing teaching and learning process of materials in desigN

The relationship between materials and design is already being clarified by many scholars. With the perspective-changes on material and design in the past and the present, material potentially influences on our views on design. Nowadays, the education of materials for design is not restrained in listing the knowledge about materials and their technical attributes which can fit design, but emphasized on guiding students to learn how to provoke experience to users, with different choices of materials or even create new materials. Sensorial-expressive characterization of materials is getting more attention from design educators and students in the start of material investigations. Starts from these viewpoints towards materials in design and design education in recent years, this research will take our sight onto how could material drive innovation and facilitate the higher design education, through inspiring students’ design thinking and gaining design their design abilities comprehensively.

The activities supporting this research are multilayer, start from framing the current literature on material and material education in design scope. With the basic landscape, a series of targeted case studies will be elicited, highlighting the material-related key factors in design and material education. These teaching and learning activities, some of them are completely material-oriented, while some of them insert material education and research in parts of the entire process. With decomposition, analysis and classification of case studies, this research would like to determine the connections between materials and university students’ design capabilities. The constructive alignments will be treated as a guideline to navigate the case study research, to measure the quality of teaching, learning activities and assessment of these design and educating processes. Active research such as relevant teaching activities and events will be used interweaving with the study of cases, to support the phased results of the study.

Materials experience is the fundamental theories in this research. It defined as both the experiences that people have with, and through, the materials of a product; as well as the knowledge and skills that designers must possess if they are to ‘design for experience’ through the application of materials. Therefore, this research is not only able to provide new thought and clues for our design education, but also can enrich and extend the current materials experience theory.


  1. Zhou, Z., Rognoli, V., Ayala-Garcia, C. (2018). Educating designers through Materials Club. Proceedings of 4th International Conference on Higher Education Advances (HEAd’18),

Funded By

CSC-Chinese Scholarship Council


Ziyu Zhou


Dr. Valentina Rognoli

Dr. Marieke Sonneveld

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