From Patchwork to Appliqué : Exploring Material Properties Through an Interaction Design Remake

University essay from KTH/Medieteknik och interaktionsdesign, MID

Abstract: Materials and materiality in interaction design has become more and more important perspectives within the field. Material explorations of a specific material could contribute to this ongoing discussion. As means to investigate how material properties affect interactive qualities for a tangible interaction design, a remake of an existing design was created. The starting point for remake is a tangible programming space for children called Patcher where custom built RFID readers is interacted with. For this investigation, Android mobile phones with NFC readers is the material of choice when recreating the same concept. Design values in Patcher are identified as collaborative play and open-ended programming play. The creation process of Alfombra Applique, the remake, is presented, the design choices and how they relate to the shift of material. This leads to learnings regarding how material properties differ when using the prebuild product with a lot of design possibilities in relationship to custom built hardware. These learning can be summarized into three topics. (1) When using a prebuilt product as material there will be more limitations to how a designer can change the material, it can only be bent using software. (2) A consumer market product opens up to getting the artefact available to more users, but it could depend on how the product normally is used. (3) The designer and users will have a lot more preknowledge of the material whish gives implications on expectations. Also, the paper investigates how exploring materials and having a bricolage mindset made it possible to create a meaningful remake with other material of an existing design. It is concluded that the choice of materials and how designers work with their properties changes what is relevant and possible to design. 

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