The SCAD Sensorium offers students, faculty, industry partners, and peer institutions an immersive, engaging, and dynamic experience for discovering and evaluating materials. Unlike existing libraries, the Sensorium encourages active engagement and discovery while simultaneously providing detailed material property information and sustainability evaluations, enabling informed material selections for innovative designs.
The SCAD Sensorium is an interactive materials library designed for SCAD’s School of Design in Savannah, GA. The School of Design asked us to design an environment to store material swatches, a library system to curate swatch submissions, and a digital interaction to enrich the discovery experience. After conducting stakeholder interviews and creating several prototypes, we designed swatch containers that could be read by a touchscreen table to facilitate digital exploration of physical swatches. This video demonstrates the use of the library from the perspectives of contributors and users. More information on the project and the process can be found at the following websites:
According to frog founder Hartmut Esslinger, “the way of design is only achievable via creative model-making and prototyping by the designer. Tools, both real and virtual, connect our mind with the real world. However, tools also define how we shape things: Tools’ limitations enhance our deep involvement with them and the materials...”
The purpose of this project was to create a digital tool in the context of a physical environment to assist in the material selection tasks required for model-making and prototyping. Specifically, the creation of an artifact requires an understanding of each material’s emotional and rational properties: material selection shapes the user’s visceral and reflective appreciation of an object as well as the object’s long term social and environmental impact.
In light of these considerations, tools are needed to inform designers of the sensorial, economic, and sustainable implications of materials. In the course of ten weeks, our team developed the information architecture, designed the GUI, and prototyped the physical and digital interfaces for a material library at SCAD’s School of Design. The project started with research into use scenarios, a competitive analysis of existing materials libraries, and an exploration of taxonomy systems. We interviewed stakeholders within the School of Design and developed personas to guide the design criteria.
Interactive Table Team (Tim Tocci, Allycia Jones): SCAD’s School of Design partnered with U-Touch, who offered to provide a 46in touchscreen to the materials library. Designing for this touchscreen, the team developed a GUI which would serve not only as a discovery platform but also as a demonstration showpiece for the space. Considerations included multiple user scenarios, serendipitous discovery of related materials, data visualization for material information, creation of material boards, and links to physical swatches.
Looking at the tools used for discovering physical environments, the team pursued a compass metaphor which led us in turn to examine magnetic fields. To emulate real-world magnetic applications for sorting ferrous and nonferrous materials, our team used emotional attribute “magnets”–these attributes describe soft factors often found in design language (i.e. cool vs. warm).
Database Team (Kailen Wilcox-Nordhausen, Wyatt Gallager) : Using a web-based platform, the team designed the administrative side of the library interface. Considerations included achieving desirability and usability while submitting materials, categorizing samples, and curating submissions.
Environment Team (Louis Finkelstein, Brent White, Alix Morle): Examining the environment, the team designed the organization and storage systems for material samples and swatches. Considerations included container design, sample organization, and material swatch display and interaction systems.