Making Materials: The Case of Elaborating Qualities of Bioplastics

This article focuses on materials by taking an alternative route into considering their relationships to products. I draw on approaches from social sciences, especially studies influenced by science and technology studies, and conceptualise materials (and products) as made in their social and technical environment, and their properties as enacted in different environments of which they become a part, such as production and branding. Building on this framework, I focus on the production process in which materials, namely bioplastics, are produced and are transformed into products and so material-product relationships are formed, and new materials are substituted with existing ones. As such this study shows that actually products make materials as well, and that properties of materials are not intrinsic to them so as to be to chosen by designers, but that properties of materials are partly made in relation to the products into which they are made.


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The article discusses material semiotics as a valuable framework for the analysis of design processes, and focuses on form giving practices. For this purpose, the design processes of electric Turkish coffee pots are studied through interviews and document analyses. It is argued that neither form giving nor product form can be considered to be singular or stable throughout a design process, and that semantic and material relations that are built and maintained around the product form need to be traced for a ...
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Design considerations that take into account the diverse issues of sustainability have become a central source of inspiration for third-year design students in the Department of Industrial Design at Middle East Technical University. These considerations include the development of products that can evolve in line with local needs, product maintenance, repair and upgrade, and the effective use of resources and have been integrated into various design projects relating to diverse product sectors (e.g. small ho...
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Citation Formats
D. Tönük Kruıthof, “Making Materials: The Case of Elaborating Qualities of Bioplastics,” DESIGN ISSUES, pp. 64–75, 2016, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: