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A USER-CENTRED MATERIALS SELECTION APPROACH FOR PRODUCT DESIGNERS

2010
VAN KESTEREN , Ilse
In the materials selection process of user-centred design projects, the emphasis shifts from technology towards user-interaction aspects of products. Materials form the interface of the product with the user and influence the sense of quality, pleasantness of interaction, personality of the product, and the way it can be used. The human senses, as the interface of the user, play essential roles in this interaction. A new materials selection model has been created for the purpose of understanding the context in which materials are selected. The Materials Selection Activities (MSA) model describes the activities of product designers. It emphasizes the iterative character of the materials selection process, the relevance of creating a clear material profile and the role of information therein. Creating an effective material profile is not easy and a new technique has been developed to formulate a profile in the form of the required sensorial properties of the materials (the Materials in Products Selection (MiPS) technique). Four tools were developed to support the techniques, namely: 1) ‘question tool’, which goes through the sensorial aspects of materials during several phases of the user-product interaction; 2) ‘picture tool’, which brings pictures of product examples and the materials these products are made of into the discussion; 3) ‘sample tool’, which offers tangible material samples; and 4) ‘relation tool’, which enables technology-oriented material specialists to include user-interaction requirements in their material considerations and evaluations. The tools not only aid the discussions about user-interaction aspects of materials, but also support the translation of these into sensorial properties of materials