The knowing body in material exploration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article explores the role of the knowing body in material exploration and highlights the body as an important contributor in the formation of knowledge in the field of design. Our research involved gathering drawings, diaries and weekly and final reflections from 19 Masters students in Design during an eight-week course. Out of this data, we selected two student cases for our study. We analysed their material exploration processes from the point of view of their embodied engagement with material and found that previous tactile impressions and images of materials are important in the choice of materials, and that the actual physical manipulation of materials helps in resolving complicated spatial design problems, as the design is taken into the lived experience. The findings suggest (1) that the transition from the student’s two dimensional design process to physical material explorations is complicated due to the change of modality, and (2) that previous material experiences, gathered through the body, guide the student already in the imaginary material exploration, even before physical manipulations start. As a result we suggest that experiential knowledge formation in physical material exploration is an important element in general design education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number02
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • body
  • experiential knowledge
  • material exploration
  • design education

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