Master of Creative Technologies student
Bachelor of Creative Technologies
Can a wool by-product be used to improve acoustics? That’s the interesting topic Samuel Wanless explored for his Master of Creative Technologies research.
“Strong wool is often referred to as a by-product due to its lower perceived quality, resulting in an unsustainably low market value. My master’s degree research investigated how this fibre may contribute to functional products outside of conventional applications. Specifically, the research focused on how the textiles may be manufactured and applied to improve the acoustics of interior spaces.
“My creative practice had historically focused on recorded sound and digital audio production. I became interested in how materials could affect the behaviour of sound in a space. This sonic curiosity, paired with the provocation to develop new applications for strong wool formed the basis of the research. I was put in touch with a company that was interested in some of my undergraduate work, and I was offered a full scholarship from the industry partner to expand the work into a master’s degree thesis.”
Samuel’s master’s degree research was supervised by Dr Donna Cleveland and Dr Clinton Watkins.
Creating artefacts of value from by-product materials is an incredibly fulfilling process, Samuel says.
“Identifying desirable characteristics within materials that may have previously been overlooked opens up a whole area of sustainable product design.
“This premise has completely shifted my approach to making, and I intend for it to be a core motivation for future work.”
He enjoyed presenting his work at the 2021 International Virtu-wool Research Conference and is now working on commercialising his research, together with the industry partner he collaborated with throughout his master’s degree.
Enjoying creative freedom
The freedom is what Samuel has enjoyed most about studying creative technologies.
“I enjoy the freedom to draw knowledge and techniques from a broad range of disciplines. The scope of expertise among the teaching and technical staff meant that there was always someone around willing to share an anecdote relating to the research.”
Making and experimenting with materials has been enjoyable, he adds.
“I enjoyed working through difficult manufacturing tasks alongside the AUT Textile Design Lab and the workshop technicians, and resolving issues in materials and processes to create new objects of value.”