Material design: creating a sustainable future

We explore how an inventive use of materials can help pave the way for a more sustainable future – whether it’s finding new uses for waste or plant-based alternatives to plastics and leather

Every item we encounter is made from something. But how much we do we actually know about the materials that we interact with on a daily basis? Where are they sourced? What impact do they have on the environment? And how are those materials turned into the items we own?

Seetal Solanki worked as a textile and materials designer for automotive, fashion and architecture brands before founding Ma-tt-er in 2015. The London studio runs a consultancy service for brands – helping them devise new materials strategies and implement more sustainable ways of working – and has also been raising awareness of the role that material design can play in creating a more sustainable future through public events, workshops and creative projects. In 2018, it published its first book, Why Materials Matter, which highlighted materials-related solutions to environmental problems, and recently partnered with Riposte magazine to create a series of articles on sustainability for the magazine’s Agenda section.

“I wanted [material design] to be more understood and accessible – and something that is looked at as being valuable and meaningful. Material research always kind of existed within academia and science but it wasn’t really understood in design … and I wanted to show how we can have a positive impact on society and policy and the environment,” Solanki tells CR.