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CHI 2021

Unmaking: Celebrating the Creative Material of Failure, Destruction, Decay, and Deformation

Katherine W. Song and Eric Paulos



The access and growing ubiquity of digital fabrication has ushered in a celebration of creativity and “making.” However, the focus is often on the resulting static artifact or the creative process and tools to design it. We envision a post-making process that extends past these final static objects – not just in their making but in their “unmaking.” By drawing from artistic movements such as Auto-Destructive Art, intentionally inverting well-established engineering principles of structurally sound designs, and safely misusing unstable materials, we demonstrate an important extension to making – unmaking. In this paper, we provide designers with a new vocabulary of unmaking operations within standard 3D modeling tools. We demonstrate how such designs can be realized using a novel multi-material 3D printing process. Finally, we detail how unmaking allows designs to change over time, is an ally to sustainability and re-usability, and captures themes of “aura,” emotionality, and personalization.



HEL Authors:


Eric Paulos


Katherine Song

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