Making Data Matter

The Mediated Matter Group at MIT focuses on Nature-inspired design and design-inspired Nature. They conduct research at the intersection of computational design, digital fabrication, materials science, and synthetic biology, and apply that knowledge to design across scales—from the micro scale to the building scale.

They create biologically inspired and engineered design fabrication tools and technologies and structures aiming to enhance the relation between natural and man-made environments.

Examples of 3D printed data sets
Compilation of 3D Printed Physicalizations

While physical visualizations and representations of data are as old as prehistoric cave paintings, modern approaches still predominantly rely on the 2D display of 3D data sets on planar computer screens. Scientific visualizations account for a wide range of such virtual information displays, including volumetric rendering of patient data obtained from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or point-based rendering of geospatial data obtained from photogrammetry methods. Such visualizations map, process, and represent data and aim to allow a user to gather insights through perception and computer-aided interaction.

3D printed lung biopsy
3D Visualization of Biopsy from a Hippocampus

Designing For, With, and By Nature

Their research area, entitled Material Ecology, integrates computational form-finding strategies with biologically inspired fabrication. This design approach enables the mediation between objects and environment; between humans and objects; and between humans and environment.

Their goal is to enhance the relation between natural and man-made environments by achieving high degrees of design customization and versatility, environmental performance integration, and material efficiency.

They seek to establish new forms of design and novel processes of material practice at the intersection of computer science, material engineering, and design and ecology, with broad applications across multiple scales.