Material Matters: New Material in Design

Material Matters – New Material in Design
Philip Howes and Zoe Laughlin
Black Dog Publishing, £19.95


Material Matters is a wish list of innovative, high-tech materials and processes being investigated by designers and industry. It makes an intriguing read, helped through the simplicity of its anthology-like presentation. The authors break their collection of materials down into typological sections – metal, glass, ceramics, polymers and composites. 

Each material is then expounded in two or three pages – a brief description, properties and fabricated examples, with websites. A final section, ‘Futures’, looks at biomimicry, biomaterials and nanotechnology and speculates on the direction of experimental research in these fields – even the possibility of creating energy cells of coffins, drawing their energy from the decomposition process. Neat, visually stimulating and informative, the book provides the architect/designer with a great primer of contemporary materials science and suggests the possibilities inherent in them – some beyond the current remit of architecture perhaps, but a fascinating read nonetheless.