Material trends: interview with Hannes Bäuerle
21 Apr 2021
Hannes Bäuerle from raumprobe
As a renowned expert in materials, Hannes Bäuerle is giving a talk on antibacterial and antiviral surfaces on the digital Trend Stage at interzum @home . He founded the online materials database raumprobe over 15 years ago, firmly convinced that there is the right material for every creative idea. We spoke with him about the latest developments in materials and surfaces and about the impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the industry.
Hannes Bäuerle, what developments are you currently seeing in antibacterial and antiviral surfaces?
There’s been a sharp rise in enquiries about materials with “anti” properties and searches for such materials. Happily, a whole range of materials with precisely these characteristics has been available for some time now. The latest new developments, which are being heavily searched for due to the pandemic, are also already available. However, what I don’t know is whether the surfaces offered are actually being put into use.
How do you see the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally as a driver of innovation in materials and surfaces?
With mixed feelings. One extremely positive development is the increased awareness of “healthy materials” and premium surfaces. On the other hand, at raumprobe we are seeing and hearing that research and development departments in particular were put on reduced working hours, and some of them still are in that situation. That will cause an innovation lag in some markets, and we can’t say for now what kind of impact it will have. The extent to which COVID-19 has driven developments and innovations across hugely different fields of construction materials is something we will see at the latest in 2022, when the submissions for the Material Prize are made. We are already excited to see which companies are reading, interpreting and implementing the signs of the times the most innovatively.
What makes the online materials database raumprobe different from other materials platforms?
The unique thing about raumprobe is that we took a multipronged approach to communicating and presenting the featured materials and innovations right from the outset. At the heart of raumprobe is a permanent exhibition that allows all the exhibits to be understood and experienced with all the senses. The experiences gained from this and the reviews we collect feed into the online database. With our constantly up-to-date selection, we are now the most comprehensive source for architectural and construction materials. We are currently working intently on expanding what is probably already the most comprehensive collection of environmentally friendly, sustainable and circular materials. And in parallel, we’re launching a materials academy.
Your daily work involves new materials for contract furnishing. What general trends are you currently seeing in this field?
Materials are and will remain real! Even if we are currently living in a very digital age, and we’ve learnt a great deal in this area in terms of communication and daily project work, the real exhibit is absolutely essential for a genuine assessment of its quality.
Which materials are currently most in demand?
Surfaces with interesting structures, haptics and light effects are generating the greatest demand and lots of interest. Touch is becoming more and more important as a separate assessment criterion, which is probably a reflection of the growing weariness with always working at a monitor and using smooth touchscreens.
What other current trends can you see?
Another trend is the constantly growing demand for materials that do not pose any risks to people or the environment. One factor that should actually be self-evident, but sadly still isn’t, will be one of the decisive criteria in the future: whether a material is a sustainable success. A much more sophisticated awareness of these issues can be seen among the younger generation especially.
The lecture by Hannes Bäuerle on "ANTI*Material: ANTIbacterial and ANTIviral Surfaces" will take place on 4 May 2021, at 3 pm, on the digital Trend Stage .