Explore how to use traces as a material-driven design approach for data-intensive objects.

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We are increasingly designing objects that are connected to the Internet or in some way collect data through their usage. However, we have a tendency to design these objects in such a way that does not reflect the ways that they are used or what they are doing.

This has implications for the people that engage with these objects that range from:  

  • Ethics: not understanding how these objects harvest and utilize personal data;


  • Sustainabilitywithout the context of how we work with technologies and the job that they perform, philosophers argue we’re more likely to see these objects as replaceable.

In this workshop, we explored ways that materials and their physical form can express the immaterial (digital, algorithmic) qualities of connected objects. This day-long workshops focus was the material’s expressive potential, and speculation on how this can be implemented in a connected object.

Workshop Organisers


Holly Robbins is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering’s Connected Everyday Lab at Delft University of Technology. She co-authored the IoT Manifesto and is a founding board member of the Just Things Foundation.


David Derksen is a product and furniture designer. He was selected as a finalist for the Young Designer Award during the 2015 Dutch Design Awards.