Computational compositions: Aesthetics, materials, and interaction design

Mikael Wiberg, Erica Robles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper advocates re-focusing interaction design towards aesthetics and compositions. Inspired by current movements within human-computer interaction, product design, materials science, and architecture, we argue that a central problematic concerned with reconciling the digital and physical has always shaped the field. Rather than bridging atoms and bits, an approach that systematically keeps the digital and physical apart, we advocate thinking of design as composition. Doing so will require articulating an aesthetic vocabulary that formally relates diverse materials whether digital or physical. Texture, a word that applies across materials, substrates, and scales, is advanced as a candidate term within our approach. We provide a model for thinking about texture as a relation and then ground the model through a design project, Icehotel X, rendered in ice and digital displays. Texture guided the quality of composition achieved in the final design executed by a team of diverse experts. This approach opens new avenues for the analysis and practice of interaction design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Aesthetics
  • Atoms and bits
  • Computational composition
  • Computational materiality
  • Icehotel
  • Interaction design
  • Materials
  • Texture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Computer Science Applications
  • General Social Sciences


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