Modern Craft: Locating the Material in a Digital Age

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daniela RosnerJoin the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) on Friday, March 2, for a guest lecture by Daniela Rosner.

Title: "Modern Craft: Locating the Material in a Digital Age"
Speaker: Daniela Rosner, PhD Candidate, University of California, Berkeley
Date: Friday, March 2, 2012
Time: 10:30-11:30 AM
Location: Electrical Engineering Building, Room 403, UW Seattle campus

For many, the rise of computation suggests an accelerating transition from physical to digital media. However, the mounting popularity of craft—knitting, sewing, pottery—asserts a central role for skilled handwork in our digital world. How might the study of craft, which sits at the nexus of labor and leisure, reveal new avenues for design?

Drawing on fieldwork conducted in both a knitting guild and bookbinding workshop, I will discuss how different craft materials, digital and non-digital, suggest design opportunities. Across these examples, traces of craftsmanship, wear and decay evoke shared narratives and confer valued status. I further explore these issues in a series of design interventions intended to prompt responses to the process and products of handwork. For example, I designed and developed Spyn, mobile phone software that associates digital records (audio/visual media, text, and geographic data) with physical locations on knit fabric. With Spyn, knitters transformed marked stitches into meaningful expressions for communicating with recipients: a vest became a "puzzle" and a fingerless glove a "travel journal." Through this work, I find that digital technology has the potential to enrich handwork by imbuing it with emotional connotations. Moreover, I argue that digital media can be designed for longevity by incorporating material traces of personal investment. Based on these insights, I suggest new directions for human-centered design that emphasize the entanglement of social and material practices.

About the speaker
Daniela Rosner is a PhD Candidate at the School of Information at UC Berkeley. Her research combines design, computing and fieldwork to reveal the social conditions and cultural values that shape and are shaped by digital technology. She has worked in design research at Microsoft Research, Adobe Systems, Nokia Research and as an exhibit designer at several museums, including the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum. Most recently, Daniela developed a graduate interaction design studio that she taught at the California College of the Arts (CCA). She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Graphic Design and a MS in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. Daniela is also a regular columnist for Interactions Magazine, a bimonthly publication of ACM SIGCHI. In 2010, she was named an Anita Borg Memorial Scholar.