DESIGN FOR MATERIAL is a module of the “Design for Enterprises” training course, completely free and online for European SMEs, designers and intermediary organization by European Union.

You can find it here:

The author of this module is Marinella Ferrara. She is a professor of Industrial Design at the Politecnico di Milano and coordinator of the Material Design Culture Research Center at the Design Department.
She said: Today one starting point for innovation is to pay attention on new materials and their performance.

The module Design for Material cover a strategic skill for Small and Medium Enterprises or start-ups or involved in design: how to use innovative materials bringing competitive advantage and opening up new markets for your products and services.
The module clarifies the several factors to consider developing or choosing a material for consumer products. And help you to apply a systematic approach of material innovation into your business to make sure that people will love your products.

You will learn that material performance is also based on sensorial perception, consumers experience, and cultural values. And you will look at materials with different eyes.

Material innovation requires both technological exploration and a broader understanding of its meaningful application for consumers. So it becomes strategic to foresee trends of innovation driven by social, cultural, economic and environmental drivers. Then, you will learn how to manage a design process where different actors, like scientists, suppliers, creative communities and consumers are becoming deeply engaged.

Design for Material module is divided into five sections:
1. Why design for material?
2. About material performances and user emotions
3. Design contribution to materials research
4. Creativity-driven material innovation methodology
and finally (5) a special focus on a selection of materials that will change the future.

In every section, case studies are presented. And you will learn from start-ups and Small and Medium enterprises that applying the creative approach, thus winning the creative challenge of product innovation, achieving both product functionality, material distinctiveness and clarity of message.

A case in point is a young Italian company called Wood-skin, that patented a new composite material based on wood that combines the rigidity of the traditional material with the flexibility of textile, allowing different applications like customizable architectural and design products.