Meri Zirkelbach

Cell Diversity - Cellulotic material composites - collaborative processes in the field of design and science


The development of our future society has a clear trend towards a more sustainable resource policy (UN, 2016) This social transformation runs parallel to the technological process of change and the change in the fields of activity of the people (WEF, 2016, 2019). These general conditions change slowly but constantly. There is a growing awareness that the development of new innovative materials requires cross-sector collaboration with the involvement of the creative industries (BMWE, 2016).

This is where the research project CELL Diversity steps in. Due to their complexity, problems such as the replacement of materials from fossil raw materials can increasingly only be solved in interdisciplinary collaborations. This challenges many disciplines to work together in order to achieve compatibility with other disciplines - this applies equally to the design discipline. Designers* must therefore learn new skills in order to become active at these new interfaces. Which of these competencies are represented in detail will be analyzed in cross-sectoral research and development projects in the field of scientific materials research, especially cellulotic material composites. Common working methods of the respective discipline (design / science) in practice will be analysed and questioned and demonstrated by comparing different case studies.

The focus is on the validation, testing and adaptation of the theoretically developed material diversity approach (MD approach) (Zirkelbach, 2019). The basis for this is the linking of the different roles and work areas of design according to Peralta (2013; 2018) and the sharing of knowledge right at the beginning of a collaboration. The core element of the MD approach is, in addition to the diverse ways of representing a material, the development of objects or artefacts with interpretation possibilities. Thus, the aim of the thesis is to test whether the "design of open interpretations" (Mattelmäki et al., 2011, p.90) presents itself as a potentially promising approach for bringing new sustainable materials faster from the laboratory into broad economic implementation. The question is, which methods and practices in the realization or design with materials a designer* needs. Which competences are necessary for the constantly changing and more complex future world.

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Findings gained from practical design collaboration with Empa Dübendorf (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, Switzerland) and the Group Celluloses and Wood Materials will be validated in parallel on the basis of further case studies and combined in a multi-method approach.

Prof. Dr. Markus Holzbach

​Prof. Dr. Klaus Klemp