The November/December 2007 edition (#217) of form magazine contained a Special Edition themed “Exciting Materials!”. I was asked to contribute a piece answering the above question.
There is a lot of development going on with multifunctional materials – which not only look good, but have additional effects (e. g., protection, or specific membrane qualities, or altered coloration). Metallic colors, especially silvers and chromes, have been “in” for a while and we expect this trend to continue, with further developments in two directions: a wider scope of metallic colors (brownish, reddish, bluish, yellowish metallic) and a wider range of materials (woods, plastics, leathers and other upholstery).
The concept of “authenticity” is ringing large with an accompanying return to “natural” materials – while still incorporating high-tech developments. We can see this, for example, in the use of wood. Wood is back, not only in its most raw, natural form, but also with innovative coatings which create novel surface effects.
One current buzzword is “tactile” and I expect to see a lot more play with materials which have a certain visual texture but a completely different tactile texture.
High-tech materials themselves are finding wider application as they start to meet performance (or price!) requirements. Included here are also electro-luminescent materials, novel conductive materials, and – the buzzword of the decade – “nano” materials.
Lastly, there continues to be a demand for environmentally sound materials as awareness and accountability increase.