Category: LTM News
October 26, 2015

LTM project is applying a design-driven research methodology based on a comprehensive body of industrial product design knowledge that has been built up over the past decades both by the academic partners in the consortium and through the well-defined tools and methods used by the design partners.

The core of this new methodology is an iterative development process in which materials R&D is done in parallel with the conceptualization and design of products that make use of the unique material properties.

The resulting methodology is embodied into a whitebook for Design-Driven Materials Innovation, which will describe the overall process, accompanied by the library of tools. This library will include standard forms that enable prospective users of the methodology (materials researchers, designers, manufacturers and end users) to craft their own personalised process according to the challenge they face in the integrated design-driven development of novel materials.

Claudio Dell’ Era from Polytechnic of Milan and leader of the dedicated task points out the need for this methodology:

“Design has recently gained much attention among practitioners and scholars as a source of innovation. Firms are increasingly investing in design and involving design firms in their innovation processes. Yet, the role of design in innovation and competition remains a rather young (pre-paradigmatic) area, with blurred boundaries and often unclear or contrasting perspectives. The track ‘The Interplay between Technology and Design’ aims at exploring the contribution provided by design in exploiting the potentialities embedded in new technologies.

Traditionally, especially in technology-intensive industries, design has been seen as playing a minor role: indeed, mainstream theories of innovation consider technology as a main driver of change, with design following up for creating a user friendly interface or as a source of differentiation through form, when feature differentiation created through technology has run its course. Recent developments however give design a more central role in models of innovation. The focus is in particular on how design can actually play a major role early on in the innovation cycle.

At a technology’s inception, especially when a breakthrough technology arises, design is a way to conceive breakthrough applications. In fact, when a breakthrough technology emerges, it embeds many potential applications: some are immediate and promoted by those who have initially guided technological development, and are typically aimed at substituting old technologies to improve existing performances; but there are other applications require imagining new patterns of use, new needs, new experiences, which is a typical creative contribution of design.

Apple is a typical example of a company that has combined design early on with breakthrough technologies to create unprecedented applications. Also, design can even move upstream into R&D to steer the development of technology and science towards applications with greater value and need.

The LTM project represents a pioneering experiment in promoting the joint collaboration of designers with technologists, and even scientists, to foster the development of technologies that are more socially and economically more promising. Designers can therefore bring into R&D laboratories a more people-centric focus and new creative processes. The purpose of the White Book is to discuss this and propose a new perspective at the interplay between technological and design-driven innovation.”

Contact: Claudio Dell'Era <>