smart tools 4 smart design

Smart Tools For Smart Design (ST4SD)

The research project within the framework of the BMBF-funded research cluster smart3 aimed to enable innovative cooperation between designers and scientists in order to encourage and facilitate the development of design concepts and prototypes for new and improved products employing smart materials. The project in particularly focussed on the methods to bundle the complex technical knowledge on smart materials by “translating” it into a tangible and concrete language, aimed especially at design practitioners. The development of products based on smart materials requires comprehensive technical expertise and is therefore usually carried out by engineers for very specific applications. Designers, on the other hand, often do not have knowledge of the relevant technologies, functions and processing parameters at their disposal in a form they can understand. This makes access to the technology and thus its integration into the product development process more difficult for them.

The approach of the project was therefore to facilitate ways of integrating design as added value at the very beginning of a product development cycle in order to develop products with new unique selling points based on smart materials. To this end, various procedures, formats and tools were designed and tested on the basis of a newly created smart materials database. This materials database enables designers to be made aware of the potential of smart materials without having to overcome the hurdle of complex technical know-how in order to incorporate them into their product ideas. Technical possibilities, but also current application limits of such materials can be estimated ad hoc using this database, which makes the conception and implementation of forward-looking, non-stereotypical ideas for concrete applications possible. In visionary pilot projects and studies, the developed tools (demonstrators and material studies) as well as the various approaches of designers were tested. Further development with regard to technical feasibility is carried out continuously in direct cooperation with engineers and scientists.

Research area weißensee: Development of a tool set for designers – including the smart materials database – that allow to approach the otherwise highly technical knowledge about smart materials in a playful and experimental manner, thus transporting the – for designers – relevant content adequately.

Further information can be found on the project website (

Project team weißensee:
Prof. Dr. Zane Berzina (Director),
Veronika Maria Aumann (Research Associate), Julia Wolf (Research Associate)

Project partners:
Fraunhofer Institutes IWU and IKTS in Dresden, Fraunhofer Institute IAP in Potsdam-Golm and weißensee kunsthochschule berlin