DN7014 - Material Thought (2022/23)
|Module approved to run in 2022/23
|Credit rating for module
|School of Art, Architecture and Design
|Total study hours
|Running in 2022/23(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
|No instances running in the year
This module explores process-led design development through alternative routes to the traditional linear or iterative design processes, with the materials of designed products as the genesis of investigation, invention and discovery. Taking material and the processes, techniques, and tools or equipment through which it is manipulated as the starting point, students will work to expand the understanding of what is possible with traditional, rediscovered, new and emerging material and process technology.
Students will seek solutions to both defined and flexible briefs, but at all times be open to the unexpected possibilities revealed by the outcomes of experimentation, the realisations of opportunities maximised by collaborative working and pooling of knowledge, skills and expertise. The brief may be for example to find a solution for a particular problem, using a defined material or process – often because for the individual, company or community in question, it is the resource they have available, and no other. Designers may be asked to attempt to develop an entirely new material or process. Alternatively, a designer may be asked to discover and propose an innovative new use for a particular material or process that has no current viable use. There are numerous examples of materials acting as the starting point of a design research process, whether it is Spain and Portugal seeking new uses for cork following the widespread adoption of synthetic corking for wine, or the development of solar powered sintering of sand for desertified countries with very limited resources for conventional manufacture, or livery companies looking for contemporary uses for their ancient materials and processes, as the Worshipful Company of Horners currently are.
In these cases, the need to be addressed is counter to the normal one of market demand or user need; it is of material, processes and clients seeking a new opportunity or vehicle for their resource.
As developed economies continue their rapid maturation beyond what experience allows to be predicted; and as developing countries realise that following in the footsteps of developed economies’ economic trajectories will lead to the very same problems they now experience, the need for intelligent and sustainable exploitation of known and existing materials and processes will be just as important to the future of societies and economies as the invention of completely new ones.
The module aims to:
• enable students to develop and articulate their personal position on the ethical and environmental issues surrounding the exploitation of material resources;
• advance students’ knowledge and understanding of current and emergent material resources in their discipline;
• encourage innovation through cross-disciplinary exchange and working;
• enrich students’ design skills through the critical and intelligent selection and use of materials in a detailed proposal or prototyping of a product;
• establish the commercial, environmental and technical parameters through which a material, process and/ or product can be assessed.
By the end of the module, students will have discovered a personal approach to designing and problem solving through material research, investigation and manipulation. They will have a thorough understanding of the whole range of material and process opportunities in their field, and a highly detailed knowledge of a field of particular personal interest. Students will know how the stay abreast of the very latest developments and be able to exploit collaborative and networking opportunities to help discover both problems and solutions. They will be able to self-initiate material research programmes and propose designs or products to a selected audience as well as responding to externally set briefs. Students will have developed a personal position on the ethical and environmental issues surrounding the exploitation of material resources and be able to state this and represent it in their work convincingly.
Students will undertake a detailed programme of research into traditional, rediscovered, new and emerging material and process technology, and their applications. This research should be conducted in the understanding that information about emerging fields and materials may not be found in standard texts, but in journals, academic papers and through communication with experts. LO1,LO2
Students will conduct ‘research in action’, seeking solutions to both defined and flexible briefs, but at all times being open to the unexpected possibilities revealed by the outcomes of experimentation, the realisations of opportunities maximised by collaborative working and pooling of knowledge, skills and expertise. LO3,LO4
Students will then be expected to select a field for in-depth personal study and integrate material and process investigation with a design process addressing a set brief. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4
There must be detailed analysis of the context of the problem and accurate and current investigation of opportunities for exploitation of proposals. The outcome will be a product, or a detailed proposal for a product, that makes innovative use or application of material or process, and a contextualisation that makes a credible case for market viability. LO3,LO4,LO5
Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity
As a taught postgraduate module, all of the teaching and learning strategies promote reflective learning, enquiry, and independence of thought, rigour of research and testing, and professionalism in presentation.
Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.
The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.
The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.
On successfully completing this module, students will be able to:
1. demonstrates critical knowledge of the relevant human, ethical, legal, environmental and commercial factors that relate to the exploitation of materials;
2. demonstrate an advanced knowledge and technical understanding of current and emergent materials specific to an agreed category or project;
3. construct and apply flexible and inventive individual and collaborative research strategies that test and evaluate material and processes through critical and objective experimentation, evaluation and analysis;
4. produce viable, innovative outcomes that demonstrate an advanced creative material response to challenging and complex design problems;
5. document and present research findings and design proposals effectively and persuasively in accordance with industry conventions and commercial expectations.
The module is assessed through a submission of two portfolios, the format to be agreed with tutors.
Portfolio 1 should contain textual, illustrative and physical content that demonstrates critical knowledge of the relevant human, ethical, legal, environmental and commercial factors that relate to the exploitation of materials; and an advanced knowledge and technical understanding of current and emergent materials. This material is collected, collated and analysed; it is not manipulated.
Portfolio 2 presents a record of flexible and inventive individual and collaborative research strategies that test and evaluate material and processes through critical and objective experimentation, evaluation and analysis; and viable, innovative outcome/s that demonstrate an advanced creative material response to design problems.
In both cases, the portfolios should present research findings and design proposals effectively in accordance with industry conventions and commercial expectations.
The following are indicative and initial only. Refereed journals/ articles and electronic resources: issued according to projects and subject area.
Adamson, G. (2007) Thinking through Craft, Oxford: Berg
Adamson, G. (2010) The Craft Reader, Oxford: Berg
Charny, D. (2011) Power of Making: The Case for Making and Skills, London: V&A Publishing
Thompson, R. (2007) Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals, London: Thames & Hudson
Thompson, R. (2014) Manufacturing Processes for Textile and Fashion Design Professionals, London: Thames and Hudson
Thompson, R. (2017) The Materials Sourcebook for Design Professionals, London: Thames and Hudson
Weidemann, J. and Dalcacio, R. (2010) Product Design in the Sustainable Era, Koln: Taschen