President's Column

The advantages of smart materials

AuthorProf. Dr. Peter Zec  | 2017-12-22

Designers are constantly looking for new motivation and concept. They keep focusing on the latest development of materials, because new materials give life to their design concept. On the one hand, innovative designs require specific materials, on the other hand, new materials can create specific design form and the language.

Therefore, choosing the right material for a particular product is becoming an important issue in the design process. For example, the leading companies in the design industry often have their own chromatographic and material databases to respond to the increasingly complex and changing needs of the market.

There are a number of smart materials that are particularly popular with designers, and some of them are shining on this year's Red Dot Design award.

Gripmore bionic fish and reptilian skin material

Manufacturers; Gripmore Co., Ltd., Dongguan Jianghao Plastic Co., Ltd., Taiwan(China)

In-house designe: James Ho, Yeitai Qin

Award: Red Dot 2017

In the fashion industry, whether commodity manufacturing process will cause harm to the environment facilitate the discussion of the issue.The Graphi-Teecreated by Wrad, a creative designer team, is manufactured by recycling graphite, replacing toxic dyes used in the traditional processes to complete the final stage of producing t-shirts. Graphite powder is the waste of contemporary science and technology industry. This design approach creates a closed and sustainable loop, responding to the need for a sustainable design.

WARD graphite T-shirt

Manufacturer and design: WRAD Srl, Monticello Conte Otto (Vicenza), Italy

Award: Red Dot: Best of the Best 2017

The possibilities and benefits of carbon fiber still fascinate me. Carbon fiber is an impressive material for the hardness and lightness. The Piuma seat by the Italian designer Piero Lissoni is smooth in touch and minimalist in style because of the process of cutting the thickness to the minimum of only 2 mm while maintaining the weight of only 2.4 kg. This design catches every one's attention.

Piuma seat

Manufacturer: Kartell, Italy

Designer: Piero Lissoni, Italy

Award: Red Dot: Best of the Best 2017

The application of materials can range from one industry to another industry, so the value brought by materials is enhanced. One of the classic models is the polyester fiber commonly in the bedding manufacturing, as well as lampshades and functional sportswear production.


The Omni-fuse concept shoe, jointly designed by Vibram and Hankook, a tire manufacturer, once again demonstrates the interaction between materials and design. The design also won the Red Dot: Best of the Best 2017 award. Omni-fuse's design concept is a sneaker that uses innovative components to automatically adjust and reduce the user's burden when hiking, combining innovative technology of tires in the sole part.

Omni-fuse concept shoe

Designer: VIBRAM rubber company, USA (team director: Christopher Favreau; designer: Robert Lee) and Hankook, the republic of Korea (team director: Sung Hee Youn)

Award: Red Dot: Best of the Best 2017

The extensive material innovation has become an indispensable pillar in the field of design. Materials and production technologies bring new spaces for freedom, and there are more possibilities to create an advantage in this industry.

So I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of entries we'll see at the 2018 Red Dot Award: Product Design, and which ones will have an impact for years to come.


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