Materials for People
12. December 2017
In collaboration with Fördervereinigung Neue Materialien in Bayreuth (www.foerdervereinigung-nmb.de) bayern design will publish texts about materials, innovation or design by Bavarian designers and agencies on a quarterly basis. The author of the first text is Pierre Delforno, who joined the design consulting agency designaffairs GmbH in 2011 as a strategist focused on materials innovation in the fields of brands, research and strategies.
Because developing new materials takes a long time, incorporating materials into the design process at an early stage is essential. Performance, functionality and aesthetics are not the only key factors – focus must be on the user’s needs from the start. This would solve the problem facing suppliers of materials who are unable to meet their customers‘ requirements despite the new functions offered by the materials. Ideally, developing materials is a concerted effort by materials researchers, engineers, designers, marketing experts and users to ensure that all the features that make an optimal material are identified. A good example: the first and the second generation of amazon’s echo. The products of the first generation clearly show that focus was on performance: black plastic, geometric patterns, and blatant light effects characterized and celebrated by the product’s smartness. However, this version is not fit for a cozy home. Hence, the only way to go with the successor product was not to change form or function, but the material itself. Plastic has been replaced by textile, which is more compatible with private environments.
The echo illustrates the importance of a human-centered perspective in Industry 4.0 product development and of materials for products that appeal to our emotions. In combination with data collection, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, intelligent products are created that allow materials to come to live for people and become relevant. designaffairs’ Color Material (CM) & User Interface (UI) Lab works with cutting-edge materials, production methods and user interface technologies that facilitate the integration of materials technology into design processes to trigger innovation.
designaffairs is one of the few design agencies in the world that owns a physical database of materials and interaction technologies. Materials and technologies are considered key elements of design processes, both for the implementation and as generators of innovation. designaffairs currently focuses its materials innovations on developing intelligent materials with high-tech features such as shape shifting or self-healing.