Emotional Engagement with Materials: Observation on Material Dialogue Between Potter and Clay

Main Article Content

Valentina Rognoli
Elena Rausse


This article examines the role that designers have in the process of designing materials and how, through their direct manipulation and transformation, they can convey emotions and cultural values in the final artifact. It also analyzes the process clay goes through as it becomes an object and the emotions that are elicited in the encounter between human beings, materials, and the context in which they operate. Considering the increase in the use of new materials and the consequent depletion of natural resources, this approach aims to offer new ways to understand and rediscover traditional materials such as ceramic. Moreover, a new vision of the role of materials as a vehicle of emotions is investigated, both during their processing and in their final use when they are embedded in artifacts. The incorporation of craft practices into the design process enables new ways of conceiving traditional materials like ceramic. Designers also need to develop manual skills, as they are a way of thinking and a source for emotional involvement with materials and artifacts.

Article Details

How to Cite
Rognoli, V., & Rausse, E. (2020). Emotional Engagement with Materials: Observation on Material Dialogue Between Potter and Clay. Diseña, (17), 160-181. https://doi.org/10.7764/disena.17.160-181
Original articles
Author Biographies

Valentina Rognoli, Politecnico di Milano, Design Department


MSc in Industrial Design, Politecnico di Milano. PhD in Industrial Design and Visual Communication, Politecnico di Milano. She is an Associate Professor in the Design Department at Politecnico di Milano. Her research has been focused on the expressive-sensorial dimension of design materials and their experiential aspects. Her research is focused on DIY-materials for social innovation and sustainability; bio-based and circular materials; urban, trash, and food waste materials; materials for interactions and IoT (ICS Materials); speculative materials; tinkering with materials; material driven design methods; CMF design; emerging material experiences; and material education in the field of design. She is co-editor of Materials Experience: Fundamentals of Materials and Design (with E. Karana and O. Pedgley, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2013). Some of her most recent publications are ‘The Hybrid Dimension of Material Design: Two Case Studies of a Do-it-yourself Approach for the Development of Interactive, Connected, and Smart Materials’ (with S. Parisi and M. Holzbach; Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 1131, Springer, 2020) and ‘Design for ICS Materials: A Tentative Methodology for Interactive, Connected, and Smart Materials Applied to Yacht Design’ (with S. Parisi, A. Bionda, and A. Ratti; Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 903, Springer, 2020). She is Co-Head of the Materials Experience Lab-Italy and part of the Board of Professors of the PhD Program in Design at Politecnico di Milano.

Elena Rausse, Sartori Ceramiche, Nove, Italy


Bachelor in Product Design, Politecnico di Milano. MA in Design, Politecnico di Milano. Basic Design Assistant at ISIA Roma Design. Product designer and ceramist, she is interested in material design, especially in new expressive-sensorial characterization of ceramic material, biobased ceramic to enhance sustainability, ceramic to increase social innovation, the role of the ceramic creative process in design practice, and the relationship between materials and territories.


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