The rise of ‘softer’ workplace designs and blurred typologies leaves an opening for a new kind of materiality. We look at how this area was explored at Orgatec 2018. Hint: it’s about the convergence of technology and materials.
2 November, 2018
Digital interfaces dominate our work and personal lives today, and the proliferation of digital technology is of course particularly felt in the office. Realising the changing way humans are interacting with materials, a special exhibition was curated at Orgatec 2018.
The #materialsculture exhibition area at the commercial trade show event explored not just changing types of materials but their intersection with digital technology. Curated by Dr Sascha Peters, a German trend forecaster, the space brought together an impressive array of smart, experimental materials that will no doubt be finding their way into our workplaces sometime soon.
A great example on display was a unique product and approach to material innovation developed in Sweden. The KTH Royal Institute of Technology from Stockholm has been developing a sustainable cellulose fibre – think transparent wood, hollow cellulose balls and magnetic wood composites. Through explorations in technology and design, this cutting-edge product has endless applications and makes up for Sweden’s drastic decline in paper production.
Where does Dr Peters see materials evolving in the not-too-distant future? He believes that there will be a continuing increase in the demand for material traceability and sustainability. Having the ability to review and trace materials through a digital interface will become the norm – particularly as sustainability and accreditation targets become more stringent.
It’s this juncture of natural and digital that will allow for materials, furniture and thus workplaces to be monitored through a continual loop. This is the future of materiality in the workplace – one that blends digital experience with sustainable traceability and a science-like experimentation.
Already bringing this thinking to market are brands like DeVorm and emeco, both of which use recycled plastics and materials in the production of their products. These are companies driving real-life examples, which are feeding the material loop for the better.
Where do these new material experiments fall in terms of our current workplace design aesthetics and materiality? There’s no denying that our workplaces are getting softer and more comfortable. And Orgatec 2018 presented plenty of brands that are using materiality to push for a generally softer workplace aesthetic.
Having a more cosy and welcoming workplace, and one that is accountable for its impact on the world can only be a good thing. Lets see what happens when the digital and the soft collide…
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