Making Preciousness : Interaction Design Through Studio Crafts

Abstract: This dissertation explores value-creation in interaction design through practical collaborations with studio craftspersons. A focus is on the meaning of “preciousness” from a design perspective – what I refer to as Making Preciousness –  which highlights aspects of material properties, design processes, and the attitude to the design space. Theoretically, the work takes inspiration from the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi, which is based on the fact that things are impermanent, incomplete, and imperfect. This reflects a view of preciousness beyond notions of practical use, luxury or monetary cost. In addition to theoretical studies, I engaged in practice-based research at the intersection of interaction design and studio crafts, in the domains of leather, silversmith and textile crafting. Through an approach that blends these practices with the making of interactive artefacts, preciousness for interaction design was explored.Through this work, I extract three qualities, all of which are closely linked to attributes and values ​​embedded in the craft practices examined. I refer to these as resourceful composition, material sensuality and the aiming for mattering artefacts. Resourceful composition refers to approaching a design space “resourcefully”, meaning that the designer actively values and uses the specific qualities of materials and tools consciously, for what they are suitable for. Material sensuality is about appreciating the sensory experience of interacting with materials, arriving through particular material qualities, such as texture, temperature or smell, but also interactive qualities. Aiming for mattering artefacts involves actively designing for impermanence, incompleteness and imperfection, and through that contributing to notions of preciousness through use, care, ownership and interaction between users and artefacts over time.The attitude of making preciousness can be seen as tying together materials and making with user experiences of computational artefacts. For interaction design, this points towards making processes in which computation and material knowledge, craftsmanship and aesthetic intentions are placed at the core. These values ​​relate to cultural, but also sensual experiences, which can be seen as under-explored in the design of interactive products.