Johan Redström
Umeå Institute of Design

Design After Dichotomies

In his provocation, Johan Redström will reflect, or perhaps better speculate, upon unfolding relations between practice and research in design. He will engage with the idea that research through design, as it evolves, might bring about dissolving its original conceptual framing of practice and theory as a dichotomy. Imagining such a scenario – whether fictive or real – one might ask: would that be a good thing?

Johan Redström is Professor in design at Umeå Institute of Design, Umeå University (Sweden). He has previously been Rector of Umeå Institute of Design, and before that Design Director of the Interactive Institute (Sweden). He received his PhD from Göteborg University in 2001, where he also became Docent in Interaction Design in 2008. Working with research through design based on combining experimental practice with design philosophy, he has done research in areas such as emerging technologies and traditional materials (e.g. on IT+Textiles), design and sustainability (e.g. on design, energy consumption and awareness) and more recently reconceptualisations of ‘things’ in light of new digital forms of making and using. His most recent books are “Making Design Theory” (MIT Press 2017) and “Changing Things; The future of objects in a digital world” together with Heather Wiltse (Bloomsbury 2019).

Elvin Karana

The Art and Science of Materials

Materials express meanings, ideas, beliefs; they compel us to think, feel and act in certain ways. Giving emphasis to materials’ role in design as experiential and yet deeply rooted in their inherent properties, in this closing provocation Karana will explore and navigate the productive shifts and creative tensions between materials science and artistic practice in her material-driven design work.

Elvin Karana is Professor of Bio-based Art and Design at the Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design and Technology (CARADT) in the Netherlands, bringing together researchers and practitioners from Avans University of Applied Sciences and Willem de Kooning Art Academy. She received her PhD in 2009 from Delft University of Technology, where she is also currently Associate Professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, leading the research group Materials and Fabrication Design. She has been investigating the complex nature of our experiences with materials for over fifteen years, and founded in 2015 the international research group Materials Experience Lab (, which she leads jointly with Valentina Rognoli (Politecnico di Milano). The Materials Experience Lab has recently been featured by Materials Today as “one of the leading labs helping shape the future of materials development”. She is the main editor of 'Materials Experience: Fundamentals of Materials and Design' (Elsevier 2014).