Material as Interface

The design research field „Material as Interface“ comprises the intersection of interface and interaction design with the diverse digital and analogous possibilities of form and material. So-called „Smart Material Interfaces“, or SMI for short, bind interaction directly to the material as a material property. The material becomes a medium of information but also of transformation of kinetic energy and environmental influences. There are many advantages: Information and transformation are inscribed in the material, which enables real-time processing and reaction. The reaction takes place discreetly, directly at the point of contact with the body, for example. The possible encodings are manifold: 2D folds, 3D structures, 4D time-based states.

The pictures show shape studies with dielectric elastomers

Research Team: Prof. Kora Kimpel, Joanna Dauner
Tutors: Franziska Seehausen, Merani Schilcher


Shaping Future – New methods for participation in research and innovation | project publication

The publication on the Shaping Future project was published by Fraunhofer Verlag at the end of 2017. In addition to a detailed project description, it contains interviews with various experts such as designers and essay contributions, which describe the topic from different perspectives.

Shaping Future – Neue Methoden für die Partizipation in Forschung und Innovation

Editors: Marie Heidingsfelder, Simone Kaiser, Kora Kimpel, Martina Schraudner
Fraunhofer Verlag, 2017
ISBN: 978-3-8396-1274-3


Rethink! Prototyping – Transdisciplinary Concepts of Prototyping

book back: In this book, the authors describe the findings derived from interaction and cooperation between scientific actors employing diverse practices. They reflect on distinct prototyping concepts and examine the transformation of development culture in their fusion to hybrid approaches and solutions.

The products of tomorrow are going to be multifunctional, interactive systems – and already are to some degree today. Collaboration across multiple disciplines is the only way to grasp their complexity in design concepts. This underscores the importance of reconsidering the prototyping process for the development of these systems, particularly in transdisciplinary research teams.
“Rethinking Prototyping – new hybrid concepts for prototyping” was a transdisciplinary project that took up this challenge. The aim of this programmatic rethinking was to come up with a general concept of prototyping by combining innovative prototyping concepts, which had been researched and developed in three sub-projects: “Hybrid Prototyping” developed new prototyping approaches to validate and evaluate holistically developed systems with their services, infrastructure and business models. “Blended Prototyping” addressed a new technique whereby prototypes for user interfaces of software applications can be generated from hand drawings and immediately be tested. “Beyond Prototyping” examined the issue of the prototype in connection with algorithmically generated design for producing tailor made products.

Design Prototyping for Research Planning and Technological Development
Kimpel, Kora
Seiten 23-35
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-24439-6
ISBN 978-3-319-24437-2

Shaping Future | Exploratory project

„Shaping Future“ exploratory project was the first part of a research project carried out by Fraunhofer and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Within this project a process model has been created for participatory technology foresight. The research team developed methods to enable people to describe and visualize their future needs and wishes beyond 2025. In a set of workshops the interdisciplinary team engaged about 150 non-specialists in an exploration of their future questions. In the digital age, traditional modes of ideation are being supplemented with an ever-widening variety of new formats that are interactive on more levels, such as „enabling spaces“ or „speculative prototypes“. These new formats can also be used to present the results of the co-ideational process to the public in both “traditional” spaces such as showrooms, and “new” spaces such as social media. The exploratory project served as a test phase for the main project „Shaping Future“ in 2014-2017.


Evolving books – Rethinking the classic textbook | Interface design

The future of the book has changed in the digital age. New technologies offer possibilities to expand the content and to link the book to digital media. New markets and new user groups have become accessible and facilitate an interactive handling with the book. In a co-operative project between Cornelsen Verlag, a Berlin-based publisher, and the Berlin University of the Arts a special issue of a chemistry textbook for upper school students has been developed. The classic textbook has the capacity to guide the student through the digital realm as a navigator, like a map or a compass in the knowledge space. Expanded through Augmented Reality technology this new schoolbook interacts with three-dimensional illustrations and enables collaborative working. The project was funded by the Berlin Ministry of Economy and Technology.

Discover Markets

„Discover Markets“ is a research project carried out by Fraunhofer and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project defines new user-centred research strategies and so makes new areas in technology development accessible. An interdisciplinary team of scientists, designers and engineers investigate the needs of the future user prior to development. Stakeholders get involved in early stages of the process to ensure the successful development and marketing of new products and services. Within the framework of Discover Markets different technology fields such as health, materials and energy have been investigated; others will follow. The project will continue until August 2013.
-> Fraunhofer Discover Markets


Designing – Knowing – Producing

„Knowledge“ and „Research“ have become key terms in Design. Within design research the interdependency between practices of designing, knowing and producing is contemplated in detail. Of particular importance is the context of use, which describes the paradox that the production of knowledge is motivated by social questions but at the same time promotes the commercialization of that knowledge. The interdisciplinary articles of this book show how practical and theoretical knowledge are discussed within this field.

Claudia Mareis, Gesche Joost, Kora Kimpel (eds.)

-> Transcript Verlag 2010