Materials experience as a foundation for materials and design education

An important body of research has developed in recent years, explaining ways in which product materials influence user experiences. A priority now is to ensure that the research findings are adopted within an educational context to deliver contemporary curricula for students studying the subject of materials and design. This paper reports on an international initiative to develop 'materials experience' as a formal subject of study, complementary to traditional technical and engineering approaches to materials and design education. General learning objectives for materials experience are established, followed by specific attention to three kinds of experience that arise during user-material-product interaction: gratification of senses, conveyance of meanings, and elicitation of emotions. For each of these kinds of experience, a specially devised active learning exercise is explained in detail. In combination, these exercises are argued to deliver a good foundation for student appreciation and action on designing for material experiences in product design. The paper concludes with recommendations for how to responsibly redress the imbalance that exists in materials and design education, by transitioning from a culture of 'imparting knowledge about materials' to a culture of 'generating experience with materials'.


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Citation Formats
O. F. Pedgley and E. Karana, “Materials experience as a foundation for materials and design education,” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN EDUCATION, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 613–630, 2016, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: