A conference paper based on the initial experiments.

Beyond conversation: Palpating the hybrid materials

Updated on April 2, 2015.


Design as conversation.

Design as palpation.






It is quite common in interaction design theory to talk about design as a conversation with the situation and the materials, following the seminal work of Donald Schön. In my experience, however, the conversation metaphor is great for retrospective accounts of the design process but it is not very generative. In other words, it usually doesn't help much in a teaching situation to ask students to engage in conversations with the materials – the idea is somehow too abstract to be actionable.

When working on the CB01 experiment, I happened to make a pressure-sensitive book, more or less by accident. (More on that story here.) Reflecting on that experience, it seemed to me that the way I had made the CB01 prototype was helpful for making this "discovery." It was physical and it worked; the measurements of the resistance across the conductive top edge were visualized in real-time.

In short, I argued that the prototype was palpable and that having palpable prototypes and materials may be useful in explorative design.

This idea was developed in a conference paper for the Second Biennial Conference on Research Through Design in Cambridge, UK, in March of 2015. The associated exhibit at the conference is shown in the image below.

The conference proceedings are available under Open Access and contain a fair amount of interesting work, with a general emphasis on making and materiality in design research.

My paper is called Beyond conversation: Palpating the hybrid materials and it is available for free download.