material matters.

Material Matters research creation and applied research activities pull on a unique mix of creative practice, technical expertise and production facilities residing within Emily Carr University of Art + Design. We are makers in this place - the unceded, traditional and ancestral territories, of the Coast Salish peoples of the Səlil̓wətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Nations. Our activities in research creation and applied research re-contextualizes traditional and digitalform-making processes found in Art, Craft and Design. We are invested in the creation of new methods and approaches that enable the application of sustainable materials and technologies suitable for use and adaptation in today’s material production of domestic goods and textiles. The contemporary design-led methods we employ include transformative design and making, applied product service design and open-source digital technologies (distributed knowledge). Traditional artisanal processes found in Craft and Community networks (local knowledge) also informs our work. Drawing on the newest findings in material processes and emergent digital technologies, our research program is grounded by contextual inquiry through making, material practice, participatory and reflexive research methods.

We enjoy developing and exploring new modes of production and transformative systems by employing design-led research, traditional crafts and digital design. This work is done in and through contexts that are sustainable, renewable, regenerative, and adaptive. Drawing on the mandate of our own research labs we are interested in collaborations with a particular focus on: 

Disturbance and Interplay, seeking a means to contribute to new artifacts with an emphasis on exploring appropriate mechanisms for the conservation and provision of additive narratives; 

Renewal/Regeneration, looking to new applications of used and unused resources through material regeneration.

Re-organization, the development of scalable hybrid models for new sustainable products and production arising from the blending of traditional and emerging techniques.

Forums: In 2013 Material Matters developed and hosted the first of many semi-monthly “Forums” on emergent additive and making technologies, Textiles, New Craft and advanced design for wood products. The Forum is an equitable and inclusive platform for reflexive dialogue, reciprocal knowledge sharing and discovery.

TARP and New Craft: Material Matters’ Textile Adaptation Research Program (TARP) and New Craft are host to conventional textile and garment production equipment and processes housed alongside generative digital workspaces, 3d printing and additive material production technologies.

Our Stakeholders: Faculty, Students, and Staff of Emily Carr, and our Indigenous counterparts (Aboriginal Gathering Place, Frame Sovereignty Collective), Our colleagues in the garment industry (Fibreshed, BC Apparel and Gear Association, Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion), Local production and Small to Medium Enterprise (Canadian Manufacturers Exporters Association + industry partnerships)

Our collaborative discovery, development and exploration of material applications, production techniques, technology and design of objects for everyday use look like:

Practice-led engagement with materials and Making to know, together - engaging with material, (in and through) material practice and collaborative making, developing transformative methods and applications for 3D Print substrates, new craft methodologies for ceramics and for generative structures and applications. woven, knit, and non-woven textiles production.

Reflexive research - employing a designerly means of understanding and identifying context through participatory and contextual based inquiry along with reflective design research and storytelling mechanisms to consider social sources of resilience such as social capital (trust, social networks) and social memory (a collective means for dealing with change) (Folk 2006).

Critical Use - acknowledging that open source and embodied processes of knowing are integral to critical thinking.It involves and applies DISRUPTIVE ARTIFACT—USE EQUATIONS as a means to inquire into existing engagements with artifacts and use practices, to seek out and design speculative propositions - in order to enable reflexive development in Design.

Are we experiencing the emergence of new relations with materials in an age of pandemic? We are most certainly experiencing profound disruption to our daily lives, new bounds have been drawn for what we consider domestic, what is public and what remains private.

What is the role of material artifact in shaping our understanding of our world view? Does a familiarity with new materials and an immediacy of material production capacity and processes enable resilience amongst new conditions and circumstances?

Can re-situating modernist/colonial assumptions connected to our relations with product and materials in design and manufacture enable relevant contribution and insights for local ecosystems, sustainable outlooks and the growth of a pertinent bioeconomy?


Hélène Day Fraser
Co-Founder + Director

Keith Doyle
Co-Founder + Director

Daniel Garrod
Project Coordinator

Core Team

  • Keith Doyle, Co-Founder + Director

  • Hélène Day Fraser, Co-Founder + Director

  • Daniel Garrod, Project Coordinator

  • Aaron Oussoren, Lab Technician + Affiliated Researcher

  • Logan Mohr, Studio Technician + Contributor

  • Jen Heibert, Studio Technician + Contributor

  • Philip Robbins, Co-Founder, Former Research

    • Technician + Affiliated Researcher