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Materially NOW

Materially NOW setup by Materially | Photo Elena Galimberti

Materially NOW – at Superstudio Più from 15th to 21st April – brought together twenty producers and researchers of materials who transforming from inside many industries and application areas – from automotive to fashion, from interiors to product design.
In an unprecedented format, Materially presented materials, their application, and traces of the value chain, but also gave voice to those who imagined, wanted, researched, designed and sometimes patented those materials. Presentations and discussion panels followed one another in a very busy schedule. Please refer to our website for further information on the individual works on display and the video recordings of these interesting talks.

From our curatorial experience and conversations with visitors and exhibitors, we would like to share some observations, which are under everybody’s eyes but were put under a new light through the 2024 Fuorisalone edition :

  • The design of materials is increasingly relevant in the field of design
  • Materials are increasingly central to design
  • (End) users’ interest in sustainable technical solutions has reached maturity and competence

Material design

Design Economy, a report created by the Symbola Foundation, Deloitte Private and POLI.design and presented at the ADI Museum on 8th April, devoted part of the research to those emerging figures in the design professions who enjoy the greatest level of awareness and familiarity by professionals and companies. Among these,the material designer stands out, i.e. someone who “deals with the development of innovative and sustainable materials and their application to products and spaces through a user-centered approach” (p. 108). 58.4% of professionals and 29.1% of companies recognize this profile as a way of doing design that is relevant today: the highest value among professionals.

MAPPING OF EMERGING FIGURES. Elaboration by POLI.design and Symbola Foundation

Materials and design

At Milan Design Week 2024, there were many events dedicated to materials or design products generated by a refined and intentional relationship with materials. Whether the material is the subject of in-depth analysis, play or exploration of new or less new applications, the material aspect seems to have become pivotal both as a starting element and a goal of the design process. The impression is that designers are starting to ask themselves in a transversal and stable way: how can we best use the materials we take from the Earth or from production processes started in the past? And how can we ensure that what we produce now does not become harmful waste in the near future?

Bio-based compound made with BioPowder OliveStone
Chair printed in monocoque with recycled denim granules, using a 3D robot printing technique. Design Stefano Casati for Casati Flock. Photo Elena Galimberti

Public and sustainability

Many of the materials exhibited at Materially NOW clearly expressed their natural origins – woods, silk, leather, mycelium. Others incorporated principles of reuse, recycling, and reduction of energy consumption into their production process. Still others were materials whose application was aimed at reducing the use of third-party materials or having a positive impact on some environmental parameters. All these aspects, as well as the specific performativity of the materials, were those particularly appreciated and sought after by a public now sensitized to the issues related to responsible design and production.

Cosetex setup at Materially NOW | Photo Elena Galimberti
Coffeefrom setup at Materially NOW | Photo Elena Galimberti
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