Ph.d.-forsvar: From matter to form – Reintroducing the material dialogue from craft into a contemporary design process

Date
06.12.2019
Time
13:00 - 16:00
Address
KADK
Aud. 5
Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 53
1435 København K
Price
Free entrance

Mette Bak-Andersen defends the dissertation From matter to form – Reintroducing the material dialogue from craft into a contemporary design process.  

Agenda 

13:00: Welcome and presentation of chairperson, assessment committee, supervisors and author 

13:05: Mette Bak-Andersen presents her dissertation From matter to form – Reintroducing the material dialogue from craft into a contemporary design process 

13:50: Short break 

According to the ’Ministerial Order on the PhD Course of Study and the PhD Degree’ the chairperson may invite the audience to contribute with short statements. Such intentions should be addressed to the chairperson during the break. 

14:00: Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University College London, UK 

14:30: Thomas Binder, Professor in Sustainability and Design, Lab for Planet, Design School Kolding, Denmark 

15:00: Flemming Tvede Hansen, Associate Professor, Institute of Architecture and Design (Chair of the assessment committee) 

15:30: Comments from the auditorium 

The assessment committee evaluates and makes the concluding remarks 

Closure of session 

Assessment committee 

Mark Miodownik Professor of Materials and Society, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University College London, UK 

Thomas Binder Professor in Sustainability and Design, Lab for Planet, Design School Kolding, Denmark 

Flemming Tvede Hansen Associate Professor, Institute of Architecture and Design, KADK, Copenhagen, Denmark (Chair of the assessment committee) 

Principal Supervisor 

Per Galle Associate Professor, FDRS, Institute of Architecture and Design, KADK, Copenhagen, Denmark (Chairperson of the defence) 

The thesis is the result of a PhD project financed by KEA – Copenhagen School of Design and Technology and accomplished at the Institute of Architecture and Design, KADK. The thesis is available to look through for interested persons at the Library of Architecture, Design and Performing Arts, Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 50, 1434 Copenhagen K.

Resumé
Fra råmateriale til form – Når håndværkerens dialog med materialet genindføres i en nutidig designproces. 

Incitamentet for at starte dette forskningsprojekt var et voksende forbehold overfor den nutidige designproces, der i høj grad syntes domineret af det konceptuelle og det immaterielle. Det er en type af designproces, der kun i begrænset grad forholder sig til den materielle virkelighed og produktionen, og derfor ender med at skabe en videns-barriere mellem designer og det endelige produkt. En sådan barriere kan udgøre en hæmsko for bæredygtigt design. Når man skal designe et bæredygtigt produkt, så kræver det mere end at forstå principperne for et bæredygtigt system. Det kræver også en grundlæggende forståelse for de materialer, der indgår i det fysiske produkt. 

Når en (kunst)håndværker arbejder, så foregår det traditionelt i dialog med materialet. Det er den dialog, som finder sted mellem håndværkeren, materialet og værktøjet, der giver håndværkeren en kropslejret forståelse af, hvordan materialet opfører sig og kan formgives. Forskningsprojektet undersøger, hvordan denne dialog kan genindføres i en nutidig designproces. Det overordnede mål med projektet er, at bidrage med anvendelsesorienteret teori om, hvordan det at arbejde med materialer igen kan blive en central del af designuddannelsen og designprocessen. De specifikke forskningsspørgsmål er: 

1. Hvilken type af viden om materialer er nødvendig for at kunne skabe et bæredygtigt design? 

2. Hvordan vil implementeringen af en designproces, der inkluderer en dialog med materialet påvirke designuddannelsen? 

3. Hvordan kan man integrere dialogen med materialet i en nutidig designproces, der også inkludere digital design og fabrikation? 

Det teoretiske grundlag for projektet er baseret på følgende: 

• Det problematiske forhold mellem bæredygtighed og produktion. 

• Materialernes rolle i designuddannelsen igennem forskellige tidsperioder. 

• Den kropslejrede forståelse og tænkning, som opbygges gennem dialog med materialet i traditionelt (kunst)håndværk. 

Forskningen er udført som “exemplary design research driven by programs and experiments”. Det betyder, at viden opbygges i samspillet mellem eksperimenter og forskningsprogram. Forskningen er desuden baseret på “constructive design research”, der bruger praksisbaseret designforskning til systematisk at undersøge forestillinger om en ny virkelighed, bygge den og teste den for at se om den virker efter hensigten. Eksperimenterne blev udført i seks “design trials”, hvor en designproces, der fra starten af processen inkluderer en dialog med materialerne til produktion, løbende blev afprøvet og udviklet som følge af resultaterne. 

Resultaterne viser, at når designstuderende får lov til at undersøge og eksperimentere med materialer, så kan de potentielt opbygge den type af materialeviden, der er nødvendig for at skabe bæredygtige design. Projektets resultater bidrager desuden med viden om, hvordan en dialog med materialet kan introduceres i en nutidig designproces, der inkluderer digital design og fabrikation. Resultaterne blotlægger dog også, at det ikke nødvendigvis vil være uproblematisk at genindføre materialerne på denne måde i designuddannelsen. Det kunne kræve ændringer af både læringsteori, curriculum og ikke mindst af de fysiske rammer. Endelig indikerer resultaterne, at en genindførelse af dialogen med materialet udfordrer etablerede forståelser af design, fordi det placerer designaktiviteten i et tværdisciplinært felt mellem kunst, teknologi og naturvidenskab.

Abstract 
From matter to form - Reintroducing the material dialogue from craft into a contemporary design process 

The incentive for embarking upon this research project has been a growing reservation towards the current contemporary conceptual and immaterial design process. This process appears to provide the designer with insufficient knowledge of materials and fabrication, and thus causes a barrier between the designer and the product – a barrier that can become an obstacle to the creation of sustainable products. To design for sustainability entails more than just a good understanding of the systems of sustainability, it requires a profound knowledge of the physical matter that constitutes the product. 

The ‘material dialogue’ in craft refers to the dialogue that takes place between the craftsman, the material and the tool. This dialogue informs the craftsman about a material and provides an embodied understanding of how the material behaves and can be manipulated. This project explores ways to reintroduce material dialogues into a contemporary design process and has the overall aim to contribute with ‘instrumental’ theory on how to reinstate materials into design education and the design process. More specifically the research questions are: 

1. What kind of material knowledge is required to design for sustainability? 

2. How will a design process that reinstates materials affect design education? 

3. How can the material dialogue from craft be integrated into a contemporary design process that also involves digital design and fabrication? 

The theoretical foundation of the project arises from: 

• the problematic relationship between sustainability and making, 

• the role of materials in design education across different time periods, and 

• the embodied cognition involved with the material dialogue from craft. 

The research is conducted as ‘exemplary design research driven by programs and experiments’ and is based on the principles of ‘constructive design research’, which is a systematic inquiry that uses practice based design research to imagine a new reality and build it, in order to test whether it works as intended. The experimentation was set up as six ‘design trials’ in which a design process, that from the beginning included working with the materials intended for fabrication, was repeatedly tested and incrementally developed. 

The findings show that letting design students systematically explore and experiment with materials can provide them with the type of knowledge required to design for sustainability. Furthermore, the findings suggest how digital design and fabrication can be merged in a material dialogue. However, the research also reveals that reinstating working with materials in design education may challenge both theories of learning and curriculum as well as the physical spaces. Additionally, it was found that reintroducing materials could challenge established conceptions of design, by placing the design activity in a cross-disciplinary field among art, technology and the natural sciences.