Material design is fundamentally about designing a product in a manner that makes it useful for the user and the social environment.
For many years, there has been a tendency to make the functional benefits for the user paramount. In recent years, ecological trends have intensified, and have also left their mark on the design process. In the case of building materials, for example, the focus is now much more on the environmental and health effects.
Jörg Schmitt is an interior designer and art director at raumprobe in Germany, which operates an online materials database and a materials exhibition space in Stuttgart. In addition, the organisation is responsible for the Materials Award competition, which annually recognises and honours outstanding materials as well as architecture featuring a special use of material.
‘We have rarely had an aspect that was as prevalent across all disciplines as sustainability: whether in politics, economics, culture, education, design, urbanisation – it has become an indispensable consideration in all areas of public life. Sustainability is shaping our era – and our design,’ stresses Jörg Schmitt.
According to the interior designer, legislation and increasingly strict market requirements for the environmental impact of products have also become an aspect of the design process. Good material design is able to strike a balance between the different aspects as well as functionality and aesthetics. This ultimately results in solutions that improve and simplify the user’s everyday life – while also taking the environment into account.