Emerging Materials

Materials research constantly evolves to offer novel, superior materials as better alternatives to convention.

The Chair of Emerging Materials focuses on the potential of such materials for product design, develops theories, tools and methods for:

  1. selecting the best material(s), grounding on an informed awareness of the unique capabilities of materials, as such that a design takes full advantage of those capabilities.
  2. designing with emerging materials, not only to find appropriate and innovative application areas for such materials, but also to inspire material industries for the further development and/or modification of those materials.
  3. proposing new materials, to suggest new possible directions for material development grounding on emerging issues and approaches in the design domain, as well as inspired by design interventions.

Materials and design

Capabilities of materials are not limited to those engineering (technical) aspects. Designers select or design with a material not only for what it is, but also for what it expresses to us, what it elicits from us. Thus a distinguishing feature of the Chair of Emerging Materials is its holistic approach to ‘materials and design’, not only posing questions from the single lens of technical affordances of materials, but also questions aiming to understand how they are received by peoplewhat their overall impact on societies would be in order to facilitate meaningful material applications.

Accordingly, the Chair of Emerging Materials advocates the challenging couplings of theory and practice from materials science, design engineering and social sciences, and embeds this understanding in cross-departmental, cross-faculties, national and international research projects and in industry collaborations, as well as in materials education in design.


The international conference Alive. Active. Adaptive. organised by the DRS Special Interest Group on Experiential Knowledge (EKSIG 2017) will be held on 19 and 20 June 2017. It focuses on the experiential knowledge of designing with emerging materials that are alive, active and adaptive, whether by means of biological or computational processes or an integration of the two. The conference brings together design practitioners, researchers, engineers, architects and artists to discuss the future of emerging materials and its implications for design research and practice.

In 2014 we organized the Smart Materials Exhibition. The exposition invites our students to think possible meaningful applications for these future materials. Self-repairing polymer, nano-sized silicon flakes, conductive lycra textiles, hydro chromatic paint, super-elastic memory wire, switchable glass are some of the examples you can find in the collection.

Smart Materials Exhibition

Selection of research projects