Inspiration from...MaterialDriven

Born in 2016, MaterialDriven is a design and innovation consultancy and education platform. At the heart of its efforts is a focus on innovative materials, their processes of making, and the creators behind them. 

It was our great pleasure to meet with Purva Chawla and Adele Orcajada of MaterialDriven this month as we continue our journey into Design in the 4th Industrial Revolution. These two trail blazers are helping to galvanise new forms of material making as a future focused profession. As we partner with brands to design sustainable futures, these innovators provide an essential service - helping to connect the dots between science, art, technology and anthropology. From Piñatex (pineapple leather) to AlgiKnit (a woven textile made from kelp), material-makers are creating new products for us to fashion clothing, packaging and buildings from. Consultancy MaterialDriven is advancing this emerging industry through three initiatives: incubating and promoting the work of emerging material-makers, supporting circular design and bridging the gap between innovative conceptual design and scalable manufacturing.

It was encouraging to learn that biomaterials and materials that employ waste, are the two major growth areas in this field. For brands, this serves up an exciting new palette to experiment with - ethical and sustainable materials that challenge and subvert our notion of provenance.

Here are four intriguing materials that are creating new value for people, brands and the environment as championed by MaterialsDriven. 

1. Foresso 
Material-maker Conor Taylor has worked in collaboration with Solomon & Wu to perfect his innovative timber terrazzo. Taking inspiration from traditional terrazzo (fashioned from the leftover marble used to construct palazzos in 15th century Venice), Foresso uses waste wood chips in resin and crafts them to a stone-like finish.

Brand inspiration:
How can your brand offer worthy premium products? Create guilt-free indulgence that gives fresh meaning to the saying ‘one person's trash is another person's treasure’.

 Foresso Foresso uses waste wood chips in resin and crafts them to a stone-like finish

Foresso Foresso uses waste wood chips in resin and crafts them to a stone-like finish

2. Petit Pli
Ryan Mario Yasin, winner of the 2017 James Dyson Award has created a range of concertina clothing that grows and moves with kids. Drawing on his training as an aeronautical engineer, he devised a set of permanent folds that enable clothing to expand and contract bi-directionally, providing a custom fit as kids grow from 6 to 36 months. "The continuous size adjustment is a new way of approaching garment design, one suitable to high growth rates and discrepancies in children’s sizes.” 

Brand inspiration:
Are there limiting factors in your product that cause it to be thrown away prematurely? How could you re-engineer the model or influence human behavior so that it is used until its true end-of-life?

 Ryan Mario Yasin has created a range of concertina clothing that grows and moves with kids.

Ryan Mario Yasin has created a range of concertina clothing that grows and moves with kids.

3. Chip(s)board
A non-toxic alternative to MDF made from waste potato peelings. This biodegradable product is perfect for making furniture and fittings and can be composted at end-of-life.

Brand Inspiration:
How could you progress toward zero-waste manufacturing by turning a by-product into a valuable resource? Imagine a pop-up chip stall built from the same raw ingredient as the menu, that can be returned to the soil it grew in!

 A non-toxic alternative to MDF made from waste potato peelings

A non-toxic alternative to MDF made from waste potato peelings

4. AlgiKnit
Founder Aleksandra Gosiewski sees biology as the future of fashion. “We aim to operate in a closed loop product lifecycle, utilizing materials with a significantly lower environmental footprint than conventional textiles, to bring sustainable bio-based textile alternatives to the footwear and apparel industries.” AlgiKnit is made from kelp, a renewable ingredient that grows up to 10 times faster than bamboo. In addition, the sustainable farming of kelp generates a secondary income for coastal communities during the fishing off-season and purifies sea water contaminated by agricultural and sewer run-off.

Brand Inspiration:
How could your brand become woven into a community – offering value at the grassroots by promoting new local industries and identity?

 AlgiKnit is made from kelp, a renewable ingredient that grows up to 10 times faster than bamboo

AlgiKnit is made from kelp, a renewable ingredient that grows up to 10 times faster than bamboo

These material-makers, and the 200 others represented by MaterialDriven are creating tangible solutions for today. At Echo we are excited to partner with MaterialDriven and pioneering brands to design acceptance and desire for innovative products with fresh aesthetics. Together we can take conceptual materials from the lab to the high street to create a more sustainable way of life and give brands true social currency.