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Matt Cottam
Interaction Design
USA
+1 401 996 14 55

Description Inspiration Method Final Design

The speed with which digital technologies become obsolete often precludes the use of natural materials and handicraft in the production of electronic products. This project represents a hands-on journey in search of “heirloom electronics” and uncovers several possible relationships between the digital, material and natural through a series of working sketch models. Through these sketches and swatches I have sought to explore a harmonious intersection between tradition and technology, and between natural materials, high craft and digital functionality.

This thesis argues through example that these physical computing tools are the sketching materials of the 21st Century industrial designer. Now that we live in a world where we as designers can sketch with hardware and software, we can reclaim our partnership with engineering in the development of products featuring emerging technologies. We can bring back sensitivities to beauty, sensuality, and culture that for decades have been mostly absent from the landscape of digital products.

I explored a variety of form and behavior compositions through a series of sketches and “swatches” (simple interactive compositions of organic and digital materials). At the outset I imposed a set of constraints on my work. Each material exploration needed to combine natural and digital materials; objects and interfaces needed to be designed for humans; high-quality natural materials and high craft were valued over hyper-efficiency for mass manufacture.

Through these sketches and swatches I have sought to explore a harmonious intersection between tradition and technology, between natural materials, high craft and digital functionality. I have consistent evidence that the emotional value of handling wood as an interface brought delight to people, and I believe that these studies suggest many possibilities for product, material use and manufacturing techniques.

In collaboration with

Wooden Logic: In Search of Heirloom Electronics

Tellart
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