Matter Matters: Designing material encounters as triggers of negotiation

Johan Liekens, Nel Janssens


This article ventures from a twofold interpretation of this conference’s theme: ‘Making Design Matter!’. An inseparable twin ‘Matter’ materializes. One twin, ‘Matter’ as to be of relevance, folds in a unity with the other, ‘Matter’ as in to become materialized: Matter Matters. This twin pair operates as a lens through which we explore how design operates in between relevance (ethics) and materiality. The lens focuses on the mediation between these two issues. Looking through the lens, the question arises what kind of attitude in designing we consider to be relevant and reviving for today’s people and world? And in addition, how is this relevance and its constitutive design attitude backed up by materiality, i.e. by the material working of the artefact? Are there different genres of materialization operative?

We suggest that a critical questioning design attitude, provoking a dynamic of negotiation through materialized designs, contributes to ongoing investigations of socio-spatial challenges, offering different, possibly refreshing, perspectives. This suggestion is exemplified by two design cases of both authors, in which dynamics of negotiation and different genres of materialization operate.   


negotiation by design, interceding artefacts, critical design, research by design, material encounters

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