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Following a Material’s Journey to Unravel Becomings and Systems in Human-Material Interaction

Format: Papers, RSD12, RSD12 Papers Pre-release

Bilge Aktaş
Despite the increase in digital products and practices, humans are still sociomaterially tangled with material-based design and tangible artifacts in their everyday lives. From the designer’s perspective, recent research shows that materials significantly affect the design processes, ideation, tools, and use areas. From the human/user perspective, research shows that experiences and interactions with tangible outcomes affect behaviors, expectations, thinking, and cognitive development. On the other hand, from the environmental perspective, new material development has been a crucial topic to manage production, consumption, regeneration, environmental impact, and self-sufficiency. Thus, materials convey performative roles in realities that design creates or relates to. With changing knowledge and sensitivities, revisiting traditional practices and craft materials can deliver insights to tackle material interaction from cultural and systemic perspectives.
In sociomaterial entanglements, multiple elements, systems, and histories come together across time and space, shaping ever-changing understandings of material’s role in design, use, and nature. In the continuous becoming of humans, interacting with materials plays a significant role. By looking into human-material entanglements in the design scope, this paper aims to bring an expansive approach to studying the reciprocal creation of natural and human-made systems.
To discuss the layers and multitudes of systems that design practice is part of, the paper follows the material journey of a felted artifact as an example. Felting is an art, craft, design, and industry practice that typically relies on entangling wool fibers to create a compound surface. Through an ethnographic study of interactions embedded in a potential lifecycle of a felted artifact, this paper sheds light on various actors, relations, and systems that different stages of design practice entangle. Having the examination on a small-scale studio practice provides a concrete explanation of how even seemingly simplistic practices embody deeply intricate relationships.
Following the vital materials perspective, the paper elucidates a material journey map of a felted artifact divided into five stages of becoming: matter, material, design, use, and afterlife. By following the becoming of material, the paper exposes underlying aspects and intricacies of systems and underscores the importance of comprehending these interwoven situations. In this way, the paper identifies key points to consider when studying different relations and proposes a lens to study direct and indirect interactions embedded in design practice. The developed material journey map can also be proposed as a tool to be employed by designers when studying use areas and the potential impact of emerging materials.
Keywords: Material journey map
Becoming
Felting
Material connections
Design

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Citation Data

Author(s): Bilge Aktaş
Year: 2023
Title: Following a Material’s Journey to Unravel Becomings and Systems in Human-Material Interaction
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/human-material-interaction
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD12

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