Material Experiments:

Domestic Dust

Materiality plays a large part of the user’s experience with a product. It enhances our emotions towards an object, appealing to our five senses. How can materials change or even determine our perception about an item?

This project is about identifying a waste material, in this case domestic dust, and explore alternative purposes through material driven design.

Initial Analysis

As I needed to understand the characteristics of the material, I conducted many experiments and recorded the results obtained. Here below is an example of different approaches to this analysis.

Microscope View

Contact with Water



Contact with Fire


Applying Colour


Mixing Wax



Carol's Dust

User Testing

After creating a series of different samples, I presented them to users and see what their reaction would be, but also how they could imagine hypothetical uses for dust as a material.

I started by asking the participants to close their eyes while I passed samples of the different materials around. The reactions were of disgust, despite of the material (dust, cat hair, cotton, wool) as they knew in advance that there was dust involved.

Their advices were to bleach it always to remove allergens and hackers and to remove or hide well the hair. They especially liked the coloured samples and if they had seen it separately they would have assumed it was fabric. According to the group, this material could be used as a fabric alternative or maybe as paper fibre.

Potential Developments

Papier Maché

Taking in account the group’s feedback, I tried to make paper maché with the material. I started by blending the dust with boiling water, which was then mixed with PVA glue and toilet paper. I added more glue or water as needed. I then spread the material and passed it with a rolling pin. I left it to rest and dry between two heavy wooden boards for 24 hours. The result was similar to a plant based paper type, however it was very thick as I needed special tools to make it as thin as regular paper.


Another suggestion was to generate fabric from the material. This was also something that I identified during the initial experiments. In order to make it less susceptible to any sort of living matters or allergies, I started by straining, boiling and then bleaching the sample. Afterwards I washed it and placed it in a bowl with red pigment and hot water. Once dried it was finally ready to be carded. The end-result was very positive, it was softer, stronger and easier to manipulate and retain form. This process gives the material a real potential as an alternative to furniture filling, or house isolation fibres.

Inventory of Dust

Material Experiments: Domestic Dust

January 2016

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