Material anxieties: the perceived health of materials in medical products


  • Dr Sarah Wilkes

    University College London

Project summary

Dr Wilkes will study the trajectories of materials that make up clinical and direct-to-consumer healthcare products,  like stainless steel, silicone rubber and PVC, as they move from manufacturing to the marketplace. She will explore their perceived risks and rewards, and how they influence users’ experiences of health and wellbeing. 

By combining ethnography, design research and psychophysics, this study will have a simultaneous focus on the physical, sensory, aesthetic and cultural affordances of materials. It will bring together materials producers, designers, clinicians and users to encourage dialogue and enable translation between isolated disciplinary and professional communities. The aim of the study is to take steps towards the identification and development of materials that meet clinical and societal needs.