Material Frontiers

Material Frontiers

New designers disrupting the world of materials.


In this blogpost we present the highlights from this years degree shows and their approach to new and innovative use of material and future possibilities.


We will explore 3 themes: the Power of Waste, Material Wellbeing and Tactile Contradiction


Material0Image by Studio EO  

The Power of Waste 

Exploring the possibilities of waste material and offering solutions to re-use and re-purpose.

Material1Hyein Son, Central Saint Martins, Textile

Hyein Son's project 'Material Alchemy: Edible or non-edible?' explores edible sources as textile material.  25% to 40% of the crops produced in the UK are abandoned. She proposes a purpose for this waste and combines edible sources with traditional textile.


Material2Tessa Silva-Dawson, Royal College of Art, Product 

Tessa explores sustainable alternatives to plastics. The UK's dairy industry throws away 800 gallons of skimmed milk each week - she explores a method that separates the curds from liquid and then dries the curds before mixing them with natural plasticizer and pigments. The material created is comparable to those of commercial thermoplastics. 



Material Wellbeing 

Exploring materials that will enhance and optimise our lives, heal and restore. 

Material5Qian Han, Royal College of Art, Product

Qian Han created stools made out of bodhi seeds, widely known as traditional Buddhist prayer beads.  The stools encourage the feeling of closeness with nature and mindfulness, whilst providing support for a correct sitting posture.


Tactile Contradiction 

Challenging sensorial perception and exploring the tactile possibilities of materials. 

Material4Orla Lawn, Central Saint Martins, Textile

Three dimensional textiles with an architectural feel. How could a wall be dissolved into a textile?  By combining casting and construction techniques with traditional weave processes and structures, a hybrid material manufacturing method is achieved, marrying craft and industry. Contrasting the hard, cast elements with the soft, textured yarns produces a surface that is familiar and welcoming, yet cold and austere. 


Material3Fabio Hendry and Martijn Rigters, Royal College of Art

The Colour of Hair aims to create a sustainable surface altering process through the use of the natural and abundant material of hair. The developed process uses human hair to create surface treatments and decoration on diverse metals. By applying hair to the heated surface, the material carbonises instantly and the keratin content in the hair transforms into a permanent ink. 

By considering hair as a useful material rather than a material to evoke distasteful emotion, the Colour of Hair proposes controlled and sustainable printing techniques.