B} Materials Libraries Research: This new field requires a systematic study both of its methodologies and its creative impact. This research will lay the ground work for introducing theory into the design of materials libraries.
C} Publishing: The publishing of the research work in scholarly journals to disseminate approach to materials-science and materials-arts communities.
D} Workshops and Exhibition: Organisation of senso-aesthetic workshops to disseminate and discuss the value of approach to materials-arts and materials-science communities. A public exhibition and talk on senso-aesthetics.
The relationship between culture and materials is most obviously demonstrated in the naming of ages of civilisations, such as the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. The defining material of the Victorian era, steel, allowed engineers to give full rein to their dreams of creating suspension bridges, railways, and passenger liners. In doing so, engineers used steel as a material manifesto to transform the landscape and to sow the seeds of modernism. The twentieth century is often referred to as the age of silicon, in reference to the breakthrough that gave rise to the silicon chip and digital computing. But this is to overlook the kaleidoscope of new materials technologies (e.g. polymers, composites, industrial ceramics, etc.), that revolutionised twentieth century living; allowing us to fly cheaply, changing the rate at which cultures collided and allowing us to rebuild ourselves, changing the social context of disability and age.
It is a central tenet of materials science that a par ticular structure (e.g microstructure, nanostructure, crystal structure etc.) will always yield a par ticular set of proper ties, so control of structure yields the control of proper ties (e.g. strength, toughness, etc.). This methodology is how proper ties such as the metal fatigue of aircraft wings came to be understood and controlled. The materials science approach is one in which theory, simulation and experiment all inform each other to provide a framework to understand structure, which enables the systematic development of new materials.
The situation is very different for structures whose performance is not based solely on the physical parameters, but also on sensual, tactile, aesthetic, and cultural factors: structures such as buildings, interiors, urban spaces, clothes; in other words, structures in which human comfort, inspiration, and sensual satisfaction are important. These structures tend to be designed by members of the materials-arts community because of their exper tise in understanding needs of people (note: by the phrase 'materials-arts community' we mean product designers, industrial designers, architects, crafts people, textile designers, artists, and others). However, there is no systematic methodology for development of materials with such senso-aesthetic properties. There is little relationship between materials developers and the materials-arts community. There are exceptions of course, such as paint companies and companies such as GE Plastics, who are fully aware of the use of their products for their sensual properties. However there is no coherent body of research linking structure to senso-aesthetic properties of materials.
The status quo is not ideal for a number of reasons. Firstly, the cultural users of materials are not playing their full role in determining the focus of publicly funded materials research. Secondly, the cultural sector has a long history of posing interesting problems which push science forward, for example the development of new organic dyes and pigments in the nineteenth century. A contemporary example is the need for materials that transform their properties in response to digital stimuli for virtual touch. Such new materials would impact architecture, jewellery, product design, etc. Thirdly, materials have an immense cultural and environmental significance and the introduction of new materials by an isolated materials-science community holds the prospect of a fur ther deepening of the rift between scientists and society.