Material Matters

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Materials are intrinsic to good design. An inspired material choice defines an object. It communicates values, provenance and even an emotion. Materials, and especially plastics have become synonymous with irresponsible design. Blue planet 2 highlighted the problems with ‘one life’, one use plastics which pollute our oceans and threaten marine life.


Materials have become political, with the UK government announcing its 25-year environmental plan. The UK Prime Minister has set out the government’s strategy on plastic with plans to tax single-use plastic packaging and assist supermarkets to create plastic-free aisles.

Ekoplaza in the Netherlands is leading the way in becoming the first plastic free supermarket with one aisle completely plastic free. The company has compostable biomaterials as an alternative to plastic trays and bags.

Brands need to be aware of the changes and adapt in the coming years to offer plastic free alternatives. Brands need to look to reduce what would be considered unnecessary, to deliver the product to the consumer without sacrificing the physical experience and the perception of the brand.


As we assess the environmental impact of mining, shaping and discarding materials, our aesthetic perception of materials is also shifting as we re-think one-life materials, the idea of up-cycling is reaching the mainstream. Adidas has launched Adidas Parley boost made from recycled ocean plastic which has gained critical praise and demonstrated that progressive thinking can be commercially viable with the shoes proving popular with young fashionistas.

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