Materials & Color, part I

The ColorVoyant Watch

Welcome to The ColorVoyant® Watch!

The ColorVoyant Watch will highlight two key drivers of design transformation: Materials & Color. Materials are discussed here and Color in the next edition to come. It’s about the process of designing the machines to create new materials and textures.


Material Matters


Linking Process, Milan

In this edition of The ColorVoyant Watch, I will review major drivers of design transformation:  Materials & Color. As we shift priorities in our lifestyles, material (texture/pattern) and color are the easiest and most effective way of showing visual changes. Here I will focus mainly on Materials, and in my next blog post, Color will be discussed more thoroughly.

Contemporary designers are calling this innovation “the 3rd Industrial Revolution” and are recognizing the wave of new materials, processes and innovations that will affect change, not only within this next decade, but set a benchmark for the extended future.

It’s all about the “process”…entertaining design steps along the way, innovating by designing the machines to create new materials. New materials and textures are increasing in importance: resin, string and wire texture, pattern on pattern, and composite materials. Let’s take a look at a cross-section of this visual innovation.



The Linking Process graduate exhibition from Design Academy Eindhoven University of Applied Sciences was displayed in Milan in 2013. Young designers are discovering the creative process by making products for some time, and they are vertically integrating the design and fabrication of machines to make products. Linking Process explains each designer’s philosophy and how it is translated visually. Here, students display their thought methodical process, step by step.


Demolition building materials are salvaged and crushed into granular and powered pigments. Then, measured for color gradations and combined with resin, and then molded into hard surfacing materials. A mixing and crushing machine, similar to concrete mixing machines, was designed to handle the smallest and largest amounts of material, ready to be transformed into usable products. Image also from the Linking Process exhibition in Milan.


An extrusion of dough forms organic tableware. The image on the top right is the extrusion machine and the results are good enough to eat! Image from Ventura Lambrate during the Milan Design Week.


Rolling pins are etched with cool designs and rolled on dough to create edible dishware. Image also from the Milan Design Week.





Discovering nature’s byproduct from snails adds a new perspective, with innovative technology making an organic flooring product. Designing the machine is the result of the overall thought process through experimentation. Images from Ventura Lambrate, Milan.


Personalization at NeoCon 2013 in Chigaco in June 2913. Furniture Lab allows the designer to select a stock or custom design, enlarging or shrinking the pattern and then color it to achieve a desired “custom” look. The minimum order is one piece.


A process is in action…


Great impressions are waiting to happen.




Composite materials have been on the market for a decade now, driven by the recycling movement and fine-tuning the manufacturing process to allow for more hybrid material combinations. In my 2013 Milan report, the concept of dimension grew with more importance across all materials. At 3Form, innovative composite materials and component systems create unique and tactile surfaces. Owned by the US Hunter Douglas Group, 3Form addresses unique commercial interior and exterior spaces with signature dimensional styling. Press images.


Established & Sons table…a hybrid of stained wood and resin. Stay tuned for the return of high lacquer finishes.



Paper never looked so good! Full Circle from Varia Ecoresin. Press images.



The Italian-based ABET LAMINATI, in collaboration with designer Konstantin Grcic and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS, produced the Crystaline Collection – three shining patterns, on black and white backdrops. Simplicity and elegance characterize the pure lines of “Ray” (top image), the geometry of “Peak” and the sparkling lights of “Bling” (bottom image). A revolutionary manufacturing technology developed by ABET allows insertion of the SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS onto the surface of the laminate without damaging them. This confirms my trend “hunch” that Laminate is making a comeback…”Common” materials are transformed when partnered with other materials, creating renewed interest in composite material applications. Both images from NeoCon 2013 in Chicago. Bottom image from ABET LAMINATI.


A clever and interesting, yet simplistic, way of merchandising multiple wood-species material offerings for custom tables. D & D Building in NYC (interior design showroom building). How simple and cool is that?


Stratificato Print HPL from ABET LAMINATI – multi-directional linear texture. Press image.


Chicago is known for being a “Big Small Town”. The sense of community and culture is palpable as you walk the streets. Art is ALWAYS part of the landscape, inviting multiple perspectives during a routine day. This sculpture is drawing the line in simple black and white, adding 3D street texture.





A different form of line drawing: Spinneybeck Leathers’ In Stitches: 3 years in the making. This unique collection of exclusive embroidered patterns, embellishments, was a desire to push the boundaries of Edelman’s finest leathers with a delicate balance. From optical to nature-inspired beetle motifs creating “textured” geometrics. Press images.


Azulej is a series of glazed porcelain tile designed by Patricia Urquiola for Mutina. The series is reminiscent of the ancient handcrafted majolica, which is made of hydraulic cement. Azulej recently won the 2013 Wallpaper Design Award for Best Trend. Press image.



Eleanor Pritchard of England showcased her fine geometric patterned textile at this year’s NY Gift Show.


The Swedish firm Pappelina made their debut at NY Gift Show in August. Woven vinyl flooring in animation. Flooring with a face lift, ready for a patterned future!


Tribal influences are timeless decorative expressions. Image from NY Gift show.


Arto Tile Studio of Los Angeles creates retro and timeless terracotta design accents for permanent US West Coast installations. Surfaces shown in Las Vegas.

Final Words

Stay tuned for another key driver of design transformation: Color will be highlighted in the next edition of The ColorVoyant Watch.

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