Designing surfaces: from geometries of enclosure to textures of integration
(University of Edinburgh)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the various performances and qualities of surfaces within the industrial practice of product design. In doing so, it attempts to show how environmental perception is bound-up with the making and make-up of material things.
Paper long abstract:
In modern product design, surfaces are a core design concept and an important element of physical product make-up. They are conventionally used to shroud technological complexity and render the material qualities of technical workings to a hidden infrastructure. In doing so, they divide and form the fluid material world into a staccato distribution of seemingly discreet objects and emphasise perceived distinctions between mind:body and society:nature. This conventional way of thinking about and working with surfaces restricts the creativity of product design, sanitises social relationships with materials, and limits opportunities for everyday environmental awareness. Through drawing on critical perspectives in anthropology and design studies, designed surfaces can be re-thought and re-made. Rather than being considered as reductionist geometries of enclosure, they could be considered as rich textiles of integration, which celebrate the energetic capacities of the material world and act as material confluences between people and their surrounding environments. This paper will explore these issues through drawing on anthropological and design theory and ethnographic fieldwork in a modern product design practice.
Surfaces: contesting boundaries between materials, mind and body