Concluding Interior Design’s first Innovation Conference, Dr. Andrew Dent spoke about his research into exciting developments in material sciences and how these developments will shape the emerging landscape of 21st century design. The executive vice president of research at Material ConneXion, a SANDOW brand, has spent 20 years sourcing materials for a range of different uses.
“The advantage of working in such a wide range of industries is that you start to see patterns,” he said. “The trends that you find in one industry will actually come up in another as well. There are macro trends that come from assessing the entire world of materials.”
He broke these trends down into four categories: breakthroughs in the natural world, new patterns and textures, solutions for waste, and high-tech solutions. The presentation became a show-and-tell when Dr. Dent revealed that samples of materials from each category were hidden in bags on the guests’ dining tables. As he explained the advantages of each material, guests were able to explore the fascinating materials firsthand, such as Vantablack, the blackest man-made substance in the world.
Like the conference at large, sustainability was a recurring theme in Dent’s presentation. Wax water bottles with an added chemical pose an alternative to plastic that will biodegrade in mere months. An organization called Gumdrop collects used gum, cleans it, and makes it into shoes and even coffee cups. Advances in robotic clothing manufacturing introduce a solution to the oversaturated market and outdated process of fashion production.
Overall, Dr. Dent encouraged designers to have hope in the future of materials, whether those applications are large or small.
“Sometimes, there are false starts, sometimes there are great successes," he said. "But I am optimistic about the future because of the way we are thinking differently about the materials that we use.”