Course Offerings

Prof. Dr. Zane Berzina

BA/MA Product Design , BA/MA Textile- and Surface Design


Materiality and Sensorial Research

Tutors: Prof. Dr. Zane Berzina, Veronika Aumann, Julia Wolf

“We are social beings, and we communicate in and with and through our senses. Long before we are rational beings, humans are sensing beings. Life without senses does not make sense.”1
Anthony Synnott, Centre for Sensory Studies (Montreal)

Materials are making our ideas and concepts tangible. The products are formed and defined by physical components, by materials. Their expression and functionality are determined by materials. Designers are mediators between ideas and materials, between technological innovations and real human needs. We are relatively well understanding the „performance related identities“ of the contemporary materials (Enzo Manzini) based either on their descriptions by materials scientists or – in the best case scenario – on our own experience.2 But how much do we actually know about the potential and limits of the aesthetic, sensory and emotional side of the materials which is crucial for a successful product or artifact?

This project will be concerned with design-related materials research, in particularly focusing on sensorial design research and development. We will be seeking to extract the materials‘ intrinsic logic, the hidden physis of matter to thoroughly study a material in order to optimise its potential. The aim is to understand the possibilities and limits of selected materials so that they can be applied accordingly. During the term it will be necessary to formulate and conclude own sensorial research and experiments into a single sensorial artifact which can provide new multi-sensorial experiences.

The first part of the project will be dedicated to specialist workshops, lectures and intensive individual research into selected materials and their sensorial properties utilising high and low technologies that allow to manipulate these.

The second stage of the project will be concerned with the development of a single sensorial artifact, and will consist of:

- the development of tools for communicating clearly a range of a selected material‘s sensorial, emotional and expressive properties;
- a proposal for an application at a prototype stage as completion of the sensorial material experiments.

Project will be conducted within the framework of the BMBF funded research project „Smart Tools for Smart Design“ - part of the „smart³“ project - in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) Dresden, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) Potsdam-Golm and the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS), Dresden who will contribute to the project with their expertise and a selection of various shape change materials developed at their laboratories. These are:

(Thermic) Shape Memory Alloys
Dielectric Elastomers
Piezoelectric Ceramics 

Students who are interested in the shape change materials will be able to profit from this extensive expert network or, alternatively, will be able to work with other materials of their own choice.

Start Dates + Project-integrated Workshops / Exkursions:

13. April
12 pm @ Flughalle / Product Design (in the College)
Project Introduction

14. April
2 pm @ Room A2.05 - First project meeting (project context + briefing)
5 pm - Talk by Marco Canevacci / Plastique Fantastique

16. or 17. April
Hannover Messe (Hannover)

20.-22. April
Masayo Ave (Germany / Japan)
sensorial research → sensorial design dictionary

Introduction of the students to a design method to conclude the expanding sensorial research into a single sensorial artifact. Each student will pass through the method with own experiments to formulate the single artifact, which can provide new sensorial experiences to the public without any words.

27.-29. April
Veronika Aumann & Julia Wolf with Paula van Brummelen
Designing with the 4th Dimention - Time: Challenges of Active / Reactive Shape Change Materials

This workshop will be a hands-on introduction to „smart³“ shape change materials with an aim to explore and enhance their multi-sensorial potential and possible performances by manipulating these materials and integrating them into various structures and/or scenarios.

4.-6. May
Prof. Mark Miodownik, The Institute of Making (UK)
Sensorial Workshop – Developing a material language through objects to enable technical collaborations

Students will be introduced to the Institute of Making methodology to developing a material language through objects to enable technical collaborations. The objects are isomorphic sets of material stimuli which are used as tools to bridge the disciplinary gap between designers and materials engineers.

7. May
Techtextil (Frankfurt/M)

12. May
1. Interim presentation (Project ideas)

16. June
2. Interim presentation (Work-in-Progress)

18./19. July
Exhibition at the College Open Days

1. Synnott, Anthony, The Body Social: Symbolism, Self and Society. London, New York: Routledge, 1993, S. 128

2. Manzini, Enzo, The Material of Invention, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989

Summer Semester 2015

2. study-segment

Weekday : Mo + Tue

Time: 10.00 h – 18.00 h

Location : Textil, A2.05

Compulsory : Wahlpflicht

Number of participants : 8 (0)

Credit Points : 18