The materialS lab

A shopping experience that encourages mindful thinking towards the places, people, and things from which products derive.

CONTEXT —
As the ultimate form of transparency for brands to promote their sustainable practices, the Materials Lab is a space for shoppers to actively reflect and wonder about the material sourcing and manufacturing processes involved in the creation of their potential purchases.

COMPLETION —
Spring 2019, 3 weeks

SKILLS —
Interaction Design
Spatial Design
Speculative Design

THE CONCEPT

The Materials Lab takes shoppers on a journey to create their ideal product from starting material to finished product. Starting from Design, shoppers imagine their ideal item, then head onto Learn in which they experience the item's manufacturing process, and finally in Reflect, they are asked to question the value of the product.

Parti-Diagram of space and extracted view of example experience

THE EXPERIENCE

01/ Design

Employees at the front desk ask shoppers to describe their ideal item in terms of performance and capability. Then, with the help of an employee, they determine and receive the starting "seed" of the material that fits these needs.

At this step, shoppers learn to distinguish their functionality needs from aesthetic-likings, and learn more about material affordances.

02/ Learn

Individual shoppers use the given "seed" to initiate the transforming process. Spread across several rooms, 3D projections recreate and play the processes' real world environments. Shoppers experience the material change first-hand from room to room, witnessing the environmental impact and social effects of its manufacturing and sourcing process as well.

The Learn phase encourages shoppers to realize their purchasing power and appreciate the process behind a potential purchase.

03/ Reflect

Once a shopper has finished the learning experience, they enter a room dedicated to self-reflection. In this room, a check-out booth asks series of questions before leading to the final question of whether or not the shopper will be purchasing the good today. This cashier-less process allows shoppers to not feel pressured during their decision-making process, placing full responsibility on them for their purchase.