Thinking/Creating with Active Materials


A master thesis by Luke Franzke on designing ephemeral interactive devices.

Electronics printed on banana leaf

A growing palette of smart materials is entering the vocabulary of Interaction Design, offering the potential to build radically new user experiences. These materials in turn bring new challenges, confronting us with questions of longevity, durability and decay. Their dynamic and fragile nature is in direct opposition to the durability we have come to expect from technology.

But why make enduring technology in spite of its depreciating usefulness and inevitable obsolescence? Can we instead design devices that gracefully decay, shifting value from longevity to ephemerality? What new aesthetic possibilities could this exploration bring to interaction design?

This project has made research into various fields concerning ephemerality, to uncover transferable concepts for Interaction Design. This theoretical base was built upon through experimentation with smart materials, to develop practical DIY (do it yourself) methods for ephemeral displays and sensors for interactive devices using degradable materials.