Studio Intensive: Material Futures

Faculty: Andrew Dent




These interactive workshops will address current and future material worlds. Held at Material ConneXion with a library of more than 5,000 innovative materials, technologies and processes, the series will examine the fundamentals of material technologies used in design and the context surrounding material choices in terms of performance, aesthetics and sustainability. Future trends for shaping the material choices of tomorrow will also be explored. An understanding of today’s range of material possibilities is essential, but what creates real change is deliberate design for material futures. Second-generation nanotechnology, biomimicry and bioma- terials all offer the possibility to move beyond our current manufacturing processes to a future that is better aligned with our environment and resources.



Students in this class will learn the fundamentals of materials in terms of manufacturing constraints, resources, sustainability and ethics; understand the categorization and interrelation of materials through experience of the world largest innovative materials library; research emerging technologies for use in future products; conduct prototyping using the results of this research; and understand some of the critical limitations and implications of any material choice, particularly with respect to the natural world and its resources. 



This course will take place at Material ConneXion, an extensive library of innovative materials for the design world. There will be an initial presentation to create the context for each workshop, followed by student work in teams-involving research, ideation, and prototyping. Final critiques will provide feedback, and domain-specific reading will be required to understand the full implications of materials selected and products prototyped. 



Students in this course will come away with a set of tools to:

  • Understand current available material classes and the ways in which those materials can be processed
  • Assess the basic sustainability of these materials and the corresponding processes required to make them into products
  • Conduct research around new materials
  • Prototype around emerging future material directions and propose how these “material futures” will impact humans and the environment