Smart Textiles Design Lab Blog at The Swedish School of Textiles

A Material Strategy: Exploring Material Properties of Computers

As design problems are inherently indeterminate or wicked, we have to rely on various strategies when practicing design. In this paper, we propose a material strategy that emphasizes the expressional potential of computers. We argue how computers, in principle, can be understood as a material for design and how they can be part of a formgiving practice. We embark on the beginning of establishing a practical understanding of the computer as a material by articulating a number of material properties of computers. Two of these properties, computed causality and connectability, are given shape through material samples of a computational composite. The composite is in the form of a copper tile of which the computer controls the thermodynamic behavior. The material strategy proposed here which produced dramatic results is still in its infancy, but by adopting a material understanding of computers and beginning to embody the space of opportunities it unfolds, we take the first steps towards a new way of designing computational objects and architectures.

VallgĂ„rda, Anna & Tomas Sokoler (2010) “A Material Strategy: Exploring Material Properties of Computers”, International Journal of Design , 4(3), pp. 1-14


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