SMArchS (Design Computation) Thesis

The following is the abstract of my masters thesis for the SMArchS(Design Computation) degree at MIT. A downloadable PDF of my thesis can be found here.

Thesis Title: Integrating Digital Design and Fabrication with Craft Production


This thesis examines if methods of manual craft production can be utilised to overcome the indeterminacies of physical materials and processes that hinder Digital Design and Fabrication (DDF). Indeterminacies in physical materials and processes are considered to be errors that prevent DDF from achieving its stated goal of a seamless transition from digital model to physical artefact. One of the definitions of craft, by contrast, is “(potentially) error through and through… [where error is]… an incomputable deviation from the norm” (Dutta, p. 211, 2007).

This concept of error as being “incomputable” is analysed using theories from computation, systems theory and sociology to formulate a definition of material craft production for this thesis. Material craft production is then compared to the concept of digital craft and it is argued that digital craft is limited in its capacity to negotiate physical materials and processes.

Tools from systems theory are then used to propose a model describing material craft production. This model is called the Sensing-Evaluating-Shaping (SES) model. The validity of the SES model is tested through case studies of material craft production.

The SES model is analysed using systems analysis tools and a role for DDF is proposed within the SES model,  giving rise to digital SES production. The ability of digital SES production to negotiate indeterminacies in physical  materials and processes is tested through the fabrication of a series of increasingly complex physical artefacts.


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