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Material as the Co-designer: exploring a new practice in the nature and at the studio
By Bilge Aktas, Aalto University, Finland

Creative production is feed upon reflections of the maker from the various phases in the making. This paper presents reflections from an explorative process of studying the material and ways of interacting with it. By introducing examples from different phases of felt making, this study examines how the wool, the only material in felting, reacts as the maker works with it. Coming from a product design background, the author is used to build her works upon facts, needs, or reasons. When she started practising felt, she had no purpose rather than exploring the material and gaining experience on the practice. As the interaction with the material continued, with a carefully documented exploration process, she realised how material reforms itself with the movement of her hands, creating continuous new patterns by recomposing the fibres. This particular example suggests broadening the concept of design by positioning material as the co-designer in the creative process which can propose new ways of understanding the creative practice and material’s role. In this paper, the concept of material agency is studied from the perspective of material as the co-designer with a practice-led approach.

Author keywords
material agency, practice-led research, wool, felt making, creative practice