Kristin N. Dew

My current research explores the material flows of technology production in the context of natural resource limits through the practices of traditional woodworking and design research with waste. I have been doing ethnographic fieldwork in a local woodworking community for the past two years, as well as integrating design inquiry methods to explore contemporary fabrication practices through notions like scarcity, sufficiency, and maintenance ecologies.

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One thread of this research examines joinery construction techniques as openings for designing with sufficiency and ecological limits as central assumptions. What lessons might the processes of timber framing have for the sites, practices and pedagogies of sustainable design? How might existing joinery techniques critically interject in contemporary design practices like rapid prototyping, particularly with regard to principles like internal integrity, anticipated repair, and long-term maintenance?

Emerging from this ethnographic work, a second component of my research uses design inquiry techniques to explore salvage materials and processes in a university innovation setting. What material flows underpin our technology production practices? How might HCI design and pedagogy use the notion of salvage – taking the remainders of one making process and refiguring them as valuable to another – to engage in reparative encounters with the broader stakeholders of our fabrication processes, like disappearing old growth forests or pollinators who have lost their habitat to the production of PLA filament?