How Materials Support Conceptual Blending in Ideation

Michael Mose Biskjaer, Aron Daniel Fischel, Graham Dove, Kim Halskov

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


While combining materials as sources of inspiration is a familiar strategy in design ideation, the intricacy of how materials affect the emergence of concepts has not been fully examined. This paper offers a detailed analysis of a sequence of a design ideation workshop using conceptual blending as an explanatory model to pry open the complexity of this activity, showing how research on design materials improves insight into how a design concept emerges. We show this empirically in a second-by- second analysis of a card-based design ideation episode using a multi-touch surface table. We offer process-analytical evidence for the case that manipulation of design materials helps stabilize an emerging concept, as conceptual blending research has shown by analyzing artifacts, and extend this work by showing the dynamic interplay between the emerging conceptual blend and participants’ collaborative interaction with the materials. Our study advances understanding of interaction with materials in design ideation and aims to facilitate future research on how materials support conceptual blending as a useful model of how design concepts emerge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2018 Design Research Society Conference (DRS 2018)
EditorsCristiano Storni, Keelin Leahy, Muireann McMahon, Erik Bohemia, Peter Lloyd
Number of pages15
Place of publicationUK
PublisherDesign Research Society
Publication date25 Jun 2018
ChapterSection 11
ISBN (Electronic) 978-1-912294-28-2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2018
EventThe Design Research Society Conference 2018 - University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Duration: 25 Jun 201828 Jun 2018


ConferenceThe Design Research Society Conference 2018
LocationUniversity of Limerick
Internet address


  • Design materials
  • conceptual blending
  • sources of inspiration
  • ideation


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