Green smart materials
14 Jan 2021
Sofa from Cassina with leather made from apples (design: Philippe Starck)
Leather made from apple cores and peel, 3D-printed architectural components made from cellulose and structural colours for wooden surfaces – today innovations in materials and their processing are emerging between the opposing poles of digitalisation and sustainability. The Berlin materials expert Dr Sascha Peters is examining the latest innovations in this field for interzum 2021 .
The shift towards a sustainable product culture
We live in an increasingly digitalised society: Digital systems are transforming the development, production and distribution of products. This is also having an impact on furniture and interior design. On the other side of the coin, we can expect to see a shift in our product culture towards a circular economy over the next few years. With initiatives such as Fridays for Future, this transition has reached a new high point that goes beyond the political sphere. There is also a growing desire among designers and architects to move towards a functioning circular economy. Demand for products and processes with lower CO2 emissions is rising because the climate crisis is evolving into a threat to our prosperity.
Dr. Sascha Peters
A host of new developments
Companies stand to benefit from this development – if they are able to combine the need for a sustainable product culture with digitalisation’s potential. To do so, they need to position suitable offerings on the market. In some sectors, this change is already proving to be disruptive. This applies especially to production methods in which conventional processes are being supplemented or combined with additive manufacturing or even replaced by it. “Here a host of new developments with the potential to replace existing material applications have been presented over the last few months,” says Dr Sascha Peters.
Incredible developments have been achieved in the field of materials in recent years. For instance, agricultural waste products are being processed to produce leather alternatives. Apple cores and peel can be turned into the material for vegan sneakers or upholstered furniture. Singapore University of Technology and Design(SUTD) has unveiled a robot-based manufacturing process for producing high-strength architectural structures made exclusively from cellulose and chitin. Researchers at Aalto University in Helsinki have developed a technology that gives wooden surfaces so-called structural colours, which give the material colour without pigments.
Special area "Disruptive Materials" at interzum 2019
Focusing on groundbreaking possibilities
Materials with sustainable characteristics are set to play an increasingly important role. They will be complemented with digital and integrated functionalities that will enable them to increase resource efficiency in furniture production, design and architecture enormously. Sustainability and digitalisation thus define the possibility space for pioneering innovations. Starting from these developments, Dr Sascha Peters is examining some of the latest material innovations and smart technologies for interzum 2021 . His Berlin-based trend forecasting agency Haute Innovation researches green smart materials across the world. Based on the agency’s previous presentations, its findings promise to be extremely exciting.