Lens: Type: Characteristic

Physical materials that comprise a designed outcome.

The materials that comprise design outcomes determine their durability, weight, and even the messages they profess. Paper currency is made of fibers that are durable to withstand moisture and repeated use. Shoes made of canvas are lightweight and flexible though they are not as durable as shoes made of leather, which are heavier and repel water.

Services and screen-based outcomes are also made of materials such as sounds, sequences of steps, and even people. Employees make services work. They scoop ice cream, direct cars into parking spots, and heal wounds. People are the most valuable material in a service. Some of the most respected organizations in the world are operated by employees who bring personal attention to their work for customers and guests.

Researching Material

Researching materials helps designers better understand a design outcome’s physical makeup and cost implications. This research closely examines a product, service, or system’s makeup.

Questions to Ask About Material

  • How durable are the materials that comprise the design outcome?
  • How heavy or substantial is the design?
  • Why is the outcome made of this material?


References and sources that support the inclusion of this Aspects of Experiences for Design component.


Karana, E. (2012). Characterization of “natural” and “high-quality” materials to improve perception of bio-plastics. Journal of Cleaner Production, 37, 316–325.


Jääskö, V., & Mattelmäki, T. (2003, June 23-26). Observing and probing. Proceedings from 2003 international conference on designing pleasurable products and interfaces (DPPI ‘03), Pittsburgh, PA.


McLuhan, M. (1994). The Medium is the Message. In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (pp. 203-209). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Social Sciences

Daniela, R. R., Roxana, S., & Elena, C. (2014). Romanian Consumer Attitude towards Precious Metals Products Purchase. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 109, 350–354.

Halliday, C., & McCulloch, S. P. (2022). Beliefs and Attitudes of British Residents about the Welfare of Fur-Farmed Species and the Import and Sale of Fur Products in the UK. Animals : An Open Access Journal from MDPI, 12(5).