In recent years, research regarding interactive materiality has gained increasing attention in the HCI community, whereas corresponding design implications and instructions for practice are still sparse. In this pictorial, we present a concrete case in which we took a materiality approach to design a novel interactive artifact that features rich materiality-based interaction with shape-changing and haptic qualities. Our iterative design process consisted of three key activities (analysis, synthesis, and detailing) interlaced back and forth along the whole journey. Using this approach, we analyzed different sources of input, synthesized self-reflections, and peers’ critiques, as well as detailed the design with iterative prototypes. By offering a reflective analysis of our approach, we demonstrate a highly embodied design process and a set of practical implications, to inspire future creators to design interactions with interactive materiality.




Throughout the process, we took experience perspective and ensured continuous first-hand experiences and reflections. By allowing our design direction to be guided by experiences and using a minimal set of design boundaries, novel design directions could be explored. During the first step (Analyzing), we explore different (nature-inspired) transition moments which we used as the behavior to analyze. Using our selected transitions, we explore non-aesthetic qualities to define transition characteristics. During this step, we aim to understand the behavior on all six aspects of interactive materiality as described by Stienstra et al. Being inspired by this transition, we explore different (composite) materials that fit our transition, building upon the material’s qualities from the start of the process. In the second step (Synthesis), we use our profound understanding to first couple and later map the material’s behavior to invite for a continuous action-perception loop. Over the course of several iterations, we aim to match the intended behavior as concluded from the analyzed transition. During the third step (Detailing), we aim to fine-tune the behavior to match human sensitivity to the extent that the interaction could become, in Heideggerian’s terminology, present-at-hand. To achieve this level, we use peer student critique and affinity diagraming to polish the subtleties of the interaction.