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Architect Laura van Santen at Cor Unum Ceramics in Den Bosch - photo archive Design Lectorate

Touching as a Research Method

The Lectorate Design aims to identify and share a range of research methods practised at KABK that use the tools, approaches, and capacities of art and design to create and surface new knowledge.


In this second edition in a series of explorations of research methods in art and design, the KABK Design Lectorate focuses on how research is conducted through and with materials and matter. As with the previous edition, which focused on walking, the project comprises a video-interview, an exhibition and a publication.

The project features the practices, perspectives, and research of students, tutors and workshop instructors from the extended KABK community. At its centre is the research-practice of architect Laura van Santen, who teaches in BA Interior Architecture & Furniture Design.

Earlier this year the Design Lectorate visited Laura van Santen at Cor Unum Ceramics in Den Bosch, one of the few ceramic workshops in the Netherlands that produces contemporary ceramic design in collaboration with (emerging) designers and makers. We wanted to learn about the role of matter, material and touch in Laura’s research and teaching.

Starting from the specific example of the glazed ceramic tiles van Santen is developing at Cor Unum, the conversation extended to topics such as experimenting with ingredients and processes, working with waste and embracing unexpected outcomes.

‘Rather than thinking about a design and starting by asking what a material should do in that design, I like to think about what a material can do. And then the spatial concept can grow from there.’

Laura van Santen

The architect also spoke about the importance of making the knowledge generated by material research—including failures, insights, samples, recipes, and steps—accessible to others. In an exhibition in the KABINETS, to open January 19, 2022, she will further explore this approach. The exhibition will include a selection of material experiments and samples made in the KABK workshops, as a prototype for what a KABK material and sample archive might be.

It’s not too late to get involved! If you conduct research with materials and prioritize the sense of touch, let us know.

The Kabinets with prototypes at the Royal Academy of Art
Process at the studio
architect Laura van Santen
Process at the ceramic studio
Process at the ceramic studio
The output of the work
Has 2 sub projects

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