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Material Innovation: Product Design

An educational and inspiring survey of the cutting-edge materials that are pushing product innovation forward

by Hans Aschim in Design on 29 April 2014

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A driving force behind innovation in all areas of design and technology is the development of new materials. Sometimes overlooked, this core tenet is given the spotlight in the upcoming Thames & Hudson release, "Material Innovation: Product Design." As part of the larger series Material Innovation, produced in association with material consultancy agency Material ConneXion, the book provides a wide examination of cutting-edge materials in contemporary products from medical devices to surfboards to lighting fixtures. While the book hones in on the technology of new materials, it's always from a design perspective—whereby the materials are presented as a solution to a design problem.

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Each chapter presents a new category of materials, organized by either origin—for example; grown materials, recycled materials and advanced composites—or by intended use and integration of technology such as surface protection, embedded technology and additive manufacturing. Many CH favorites are featured in the book, from Patagonia's plant-based wetsuit to Nike's famous Flyknit material. Each entry examines both the development process as it relates to design and also the solutions the material presents. What is perhaps most inspiring is the clear ability of materials to make new products possible and to give new life and applications to existing designs. A useful illustrated materials directory at the end of the book acts as a practical short-form reference tool.

With over 350 color photos and illustrations, "Material Innovation: Product Design" is an inspiring survey of existing materials and their applications as well as a comprehensive reference guide. The book is currently available for pre-order from Amazon for $19. Another installment in the series, "Architecture" is also available for pre-order with a 10 June release and keep an eye out for the upcoming "Packaging" tome due out spring 2015.

Photos by Hans Aschim

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