This course introduces students to fundamental properties of materials and fabrication techniques, in the combined format of a seminar and physical workshop. It will provide hands-on experience in individual and cooperative building skills, focusing on the connectivity of analog and digital methods, as well as encouraging a type of engagement with making physical things that is analytical and creative.
The title of the course is literal in that it is a hands-on workshop concerned with the nature and performance of materials, examined and tested through direct experience. The title is also a reference to our necessary attachment to materials and material things as designers, and a nod to the productive cultural institutions that emerge around the act of making. As such, the course will examine the relationship between materials and methods by engaging (through discussion and workshops) the conceptual and historical themes that establish making as an act of design thought. This will include discussion of the history of making as part of design education, making countercultures, and the reexamination of craft vis a vis digital fabrication. The semester will be broken into three acts, each centered on a fabrication theme and deliverable physical project. Each part will have an associated conceptual prompt, class discussion, technical lesson, and design workshop. Activities incorporated into these acts may include but are not limited to: studio and workshop visits in the tri-state area, invited thinkers and experts, whole-class exercises, and multimedia-driven critical discussion.