Torben Lenau & Hanne Lindegaard
Nordcode 2008, May 2008 Lund Sweden.
The present research work investigates the relation between physical objects,
their materiality, understood as the physical substances they are made
from, and the communication from the objects. In product design of physical
objects the communicative aspects are just as important as the function
of the object, and the designers aim is therefore to tune both in order
to achieve a desired goal. To do so the designer basically has 2 options:
Alteration of the physical shape of the object and the selection of materials.
Through the manipulation of shape and materials can symbolic and sensory
information be written into the object. The materials are therefore carriers
of communication, even though this is dependent of the cultural context
and the environment which the object will be part of. However the designer
has only minor influence on those.
The present work is an attempt to bridge research work earlier done on
design semantics with research work in sociotechnical construction of
In order to investigate the object – materiality – message problem area
we have conducted an experiment that 56 of our students have carried out
during a visit to the art and design museum Trapholt in Denmark. The students
are in their first year on the design & innovation engineering education
The experiment investigates whether it through a few describing words
and iconic drawings is possible to identify a certain object, and the
words therefore represent a clear communication. The experiment also has
the purpose to expand the collection of examples of the coupling between
object, material and meaning. Furthermore the experiment also serves the
pedagogical purpose of training the students in decoding the layers of
meaning for objects, in linking it to the selection of materials and in
translating visual signals into verbal communication.