The material world is recently and very rapidly changing; altering the relationships
between materials – the substance of everyday life – and designers – the
professionals who are responsible for transforming materials into daily life objects.
This vibrant context prompts us to explore and attempt to conceptualise these fluid
relationships and review conceptual tools that will help to open up the scope of
materials based research in design. To address the multiple and multi-faceted
relationships designers are situated in, we borrow concepts from social sciences that
explore materiality within its multiple environments. We draw on conceptualisations
of materials as active and as having capacities to bring about change and proliferate
relations, and responding to new developments of biotic materials. By considering
historic materials, particularly milk-based plastics, we propose a new category of
autonomous materials. We discuss the emerging designer-material relationships
with the hope of directing future enquiry into materials and discuss the implications
of a new class of materials – the ‘autonomoids’ – for design research.