Matera Design Weekend

On December 9-11 we were invited to participate at the Matera Design weekend. The theme of discussion was about Immaterial Design and how contemporary design practices encompass immateriality in their process. We were invited to showcase our project Playstools and were also asked to give an interview describing our process. You will find below some photos and our interview. The italian version is here.

MDW: What is Matera Design Weekend?

Entropika: Matera Design Weekend sheds light on contemporary design and conveys a new message, that is not only about aesthetics or domestic environments but spreads across new areas of design, such as participation, interactivity, immateriality and public space. This discourse carries the seeds for innovation through tackling current societal issues and contemporary design tools, such as open source software/ hardware, algorithmic design and digital fabrication. It is also a great opportunity for the south of Italy to shape and express its own voice, a platform that helps create synergies among local and international designers, makers and companies, hopefully leading to a better representation in Italy and abroad.


Why are you taking part?

This is the first time we show our work in the south of Italy and we are very excited. Matera Design Weekend presents us with an opportunity to interact with new audiences, including public organisations, contractors, the public, as well as peers that can help us finalise our project with their feedback. We will be showing Playstools, a prototype developed at Polifactory, the fablab of the Politecnico di Milano for Next Design Innovation in April 2016. Playstools invite people to play with furniture by employing interactive light and sound. When connected wirelessly to each other, Playstools turn into a game via an interactive interface. We envision to develop further this project for public spaces and potentially for home environments, thus we are looking forward to your feedback.

What is Immaterial design for you? Say it with a photo/video/gif/quote.


Immaterial design is closely related to experience and interaction design for us. It is about designing for the senses, towards an affective, engaging experience. To claim that this experience is immaterial would be incorrect; our world and our work are always tied to matter, since digital and analog media are material. However, we could still understand immaterial as the space between the designer and the underlying, not-yet-expressed urge of the user that we try to capture. We, the designers position ourselves within this margin to approach a project and express ourselves with words, pencils but also gestures and movements. This space of capturing the not-yet-expressed by using not-fully-developed tools is a moment of immateriality or even more precisely a moment of fluidity, an in-between situation of becoming. The opening of that process is very interesting for us. It is a non-linear, gestural, bodily and yet highly conceptual process. A glimpse of this process is exposed in the short video where we use gestures to describe a game round of Playstools, as we usually do when instructing users, or when we discuss among us the game mechanics, designing ‘out of thin air’.

Do you know John Thackara?

We know John Thackara through his book “In the Bubble”. It is a must read for designers and those interested in sustainable design.

What can you learn from him?

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the unraveling of the processes taking place in the background of services and infrastructures that we use everyday and the impact of those processes on a greater scale. The book describes the complexity of the world and its’ sophistication. We are increasingly getting used to comforts and instant satisfaction and tend to forget about the long trail of logistics that make our lifestyle possible. We would like to learn more about reading the “bigger picture” in the everyday, enabling us to frame issues that we can then tackle through design.

A motto/aphorism about design

“Modernità debole e diffusa” – Andrea Branzi

‘Weak and Diffused Modernity’ by Andrea Branzi

This motto sums up very briefly the times we are living in and the new societal challenges. Branzi’s refers to the shifts in architecture and urbanism from hard construction and buildings to the immaterial city made of virtual flows of information and services.

In our view it claims that there are no more strong narratives coming from a central and privileged point of view and that past values are being reversed. Thus, weakness becomes the new strength, a new fertile ground for opportunity in times of crisis. On the other hand, the word ‘diffused’ is a very strong connotation for the end of central power and the rise of the periphery and the network, and it also refers to equality through distribution of resources as opposed to inequality when resources are controlled by the few.

And yet we are not beyond modernity as we might have wished, since the socio-political reality still operates on the imaginary of the 1960s within the promotion of technological optimisation as the only way forward. And therefore we live inside a paradox, as described by Branzi, but able to look at it as we slowly move away.

What do you expect the audience’s feedback will be?

We expect to hear the visitors’ own version of the final project, personal scenarios and aspirations and how Playstools could become useful to them and their young ones.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plan is to develop further Playstools and create a finished product, whether for public or private spaces. Apart from Playstools we keep making art installations in public space and we are now finalising another piece of furniture. Follow as @entropikalab to know more!