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Material Matters 2023 advocates for 'material intelligence' and a circular economy
Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf in London—home of Material Matters 2023
Image: Courtesy of Material Matters

Material Matters 2023 advocates for 'material intelligence' and a circular economy

With STIR as an event partner, Material Matters is set to return at the London Design Festival 2023, focusing on how the materials we use now will shape our lives in the future.

by STIRpad
Published on : Sep 14, 2023

Podcast listeners have a unique ability to vividly visualise what they're listening to, fully immersing themselves within auditory journeys. Perhaps, the very sight that lovers of this digital format long for sometimes is a corporeal, real-world representation of the rich imageries that take shape within their minds through audile stories.

The acclaimed design podcast called Material Matters with Grant Gibson was launched in 2019 with a straightforward idea, where Gibson, design writer and commentator, spoke to artists, makers, designers, and architects such as Nigel Coates, Paola Antonelli, and Bethan Laura Wood, on their cultivated relationships with a specific material or technique. The informed interviews garnered critical acclaim and over time, Material Matters transcended from its auditory realm into a three-dimensional brand and ‘platform for material intelligence,’ as well as its application across design, architecture, and making. The transformed, cross-media platform surpassed into an annual design fair situated at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf on London's South Bank, as part of London Design Festival 2022 (where it debuted last year), their endeavours concisely illustrating how the materials we use now will ultimately ‘shape our lives over the coming decades.’

"The Material Matters fair—launched in September 2022—works with the podcast to bring to wider attention the people, companies and organisations that will help shape the rest of the century. Ultimately, it is about increasing awareness of the importance of material intelligence—and the way we use our resources—to design a better, more sustainable, world. Owner and organiser of Material Matters, Delizia Media Ltd was established by Grant Gibson and William Knight in 2021, bringing together nearly fifty years of experience in design writing, broadcasting, promotion and event organisation," the platform relays.

Following their 'hugely successful inaugural edition,' Material Matters is set to return at the London Design Festival this year, from September 20 - 23, 2023. In its second iteration, the design event promises to bring together over 40 world-leading brands, designers, makers, manufacturers and organisations to "celebrate the importance of materials, and their ability to shape our lives," they add.

The Bargehouse offers a striking historic venue in the heart of London where Material Matters will once again investigate what the future of design looks like, with an emphasis on environmental consciousness and the transformative potential of materials. “'It provided us with a fantastic base on which we're building another stand-out show, complemented with high-quality content that is relevant and timely. This year's fair promises to be stronger again, with exhibitors working in materials that range from milk, coffee, waste textiles, and rubber particles to recycled aluminium and concrete, via paper and porcelain,” Knight shares.

With STIR as an event partner, the 2023 edition of Material Matters remains the focal point of its calendar year and becomes the Bankside Design District's primary event. It is back with an updated list of exhibitors and a brand new headline sponsor: lighting design manufacturer Bert Frank, headquartered in Birmingham, the UK. “We are delighted to support Material Matters, a platform that provides informed insight into the importance of materials and sustainable design choices. The lifeblood of Bert Frank has always been our thoughtful use of materials, a deep understanding of British craft and engineering, and an unwavering commitment to quality. We will unveil several exciting product launches at the show, and we could think of no better partnership to celebrate our 10th anniversary with,” says Adam Yeats, co-founder of Bert Frank.

The Bankside Design District is one of the most significant spaces of the design festival at Oxo Tower Wharf. The fair takes over all five floors of the venue, each ascribed a distinct subject. A site-specific design installation and a custom registration desk built from recyclable materials will be housed on its ground floor, a dramatic, high-ceilinged area created in collaboration with Wales-based brand Smile Plastics. The first floor is reserved for brands and designers who are experimenters and inventors in the field of materials. With a homogenous goal of utilising cutting-edge technology to reinvent natural materials, US-based biomaterials companies bioMATTERS and Silklab are among the exhibitors to keep an eye out for. The second level will invite visitors to the study area of Material Matters, encouraging a 'deep dive' into a selection of resources, responding to the programme's theme of how our future will be shaped by materials. Returning exhibitors include the industry leader in recycled aluminium, Hydro, in a setting designed by Norwegian architect Lars Beller Fjetland. The Tyre Collective, a clean-tech startup company, will also demonstrate how it retrieves and reconstitutes rubber from tyre treads.

The third floor will dedicate itself to smartly designed product designs that are market-ready and employ cutting-edge materials geared towards circular design strategies. A large portion of it will be curated by the Milan-based platform Isola, with a selection of designers from their global community, and will feature a wide range of enterprises, artisans, and manufacturers. The lecture area for the event will be located on the fourth and top floor of the exquisite 50-meter-long loft, which will also house designers, makers, and smaller manufacturers who deal with a variety of materials. The line-up will include HagenHinderdael, Mixed Metals, BC Joshua, and Solidwool, which all featured in its debut edition last year. Other brands will debut alongside, such as Novavita Design, Abalon, The Wicker Story, Goldfinger, Planq, Regular Concrete, and Yair Neuman.

At gallery@oxo, next to the Bargehouse, the Wood Awards exhibition will present the structures, furnishings, and products that have been shortlisted for the Wood Awards 2023. The shortlist, which showcases impressive wood-centric work from some of the most intriguing contemporary architects, designers, and makers from the UK will investigate how the use of timber can improve the built environment, towards enhancing and enriching our lives.

Material Matters, an official trade event within the London Design Festival 2023 (taking place from September 16 – 24, 2023), is committed to becoming a platform of engagement, collaboration and inspiration for the design and architecture industries. In its awaited second edition, Material Matters sets an agenda to expand the envelopes of creativity and sustainability, by influencing the future of design through the transforming potential of materials, in its programme of exhibited products, site-specific installations, a marketplace, a learning area, and extensive talks.

Text by Ria Jha

London Design Festival is back! In its 21st edition, the faceted fair adorns London with installations, exhibitions, and talks from major design districts including Shoreditch Design Triangle, Greenwich Peninsula, Brompton, Design London, Clerkenwell Design Trail, Mayfair, Bankside, King's Cross, and more. Click here to explore STIR’s highlights from the London Design Festival 2023.

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