Puffy: Exploring Interactive Materiality

In this project, we demonstrate our Research-through-Design (RtD) process in which we explored how to adopt a materiality lens to design sensorially rich, nature-inspired interactions between humans and interactive systems. Our design process iteratively went across three major stages: Analysis, Synthesis, and Detailing. In the Analysis stage, relying on our firs-hand experimentations, we explored a range of materials, nature-inspired shape transition, and sensor-actuator mechanisms. In the Synthesis stage, we re-examined the explorations through critique sessions to bring first-hand implications into a conversational perspective. In the stage of Detailing, we further concretized the details of the interaction design, and fine-tuned the interactive prototype to fully embody our design understandings. Throughout the whole process, the aesthetic qualities of materials are placed centrally in our exploration. Taken together, we contribute a concrete RtD case on exploring aesthetically-centered, sensorially rich interactions through the lens of interactive materiality.

Demo Video

Exploration Video


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.

Team Member

Personal Contribution

  • Implemented the box integration (fabric, pumps, lasercut structures design and development)
  • Standalonely designed and developed different fidelities of pneumatic containers
  • Individually wrote introduction, systhesis, detailing session, discussion of the pictorial
  • Fully charge of high-quality photo taking/filming/post-editting

Featured Areas of Expertise

  • Technology and Realization (TR)
  • Creativity and Aesthetics (CA)