Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 3124-3133
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Nowadays, there is a growing interest in research regarding material expressivity and sensoriality. This is due to the renewed consideration of the communicative aspects of products. Technological evolution has allowed to expand the possibilities of operating on matter; matter can now be transformed and moulded to our desires. This however has caused materials to lose their identity, and, as a consequence, the loss of objects identity.
The expressive and sensory characterisation of materials, also known as the design of soft qualities as tactile sensation, colour and transparency, has given the chance to bring back the cultural, sensorial and communicative dimension to objects.
In fact the relationship that we have with an object, more often than not, directly relates to its surface. As this is the case, the investigation is focused on the skin of objects.

The goal of this work is to create a bridge between teaching material selection and processing, and the expressive and sensory characterisation of materials. The aim of this investigation is to develop a guide that can help design students to project soft qualities, both visual and tactile, in an appropriate way.
The research focuses on the perception of the materials used in projects, and on how technologies can affect their sensoriality. More specifically, the work investigates on how finishing processes can give sensory qualities to the surface of an object of design.

Between the starting points of a project there is the technological and the material choice. Another option is to design according to the sensory quality that you want to give the object surface.
These sensory qualities depend on the type of material and on the technology used. In fact, technologies, especially finishing technologies, leave their traces printed in the matter, or rather on its surface.
The technological evolution of materials and technology allows to have high-performance materials, functional coatings that mask substrates, materials that simulate the luster of metals and the texture of the wood. Thus, the material identity of an object does not transcend from the material used in the project, but is reflected from its surface.
Scientific literature is full of technical information on production processes and materials application and characteristics, but it isn’t always easy to link technologies to the effect obtainable with materials. This led to the creation of project cards that reorganize materials and technologies according to the sensory and expressive features to be attributed to the surface.

The project cards are divided into two main sections, those who expose the visual effects and those related to the tactile effects. Each card presents one of these sensory aspects by organising the finishing technology and the material that produces it.
The use of the project cards is though as dynamic. The application of more than one sensory effect to a surface can be design by the comparison and identification of the technologies and materials in common of different cards.
The objective is to allow students to visualize the technical solutions for the realization of a surface with the selected sensory effects.
Design, materials and technology, soft qualities, sensorial properties.