Material Matters: a future furniture fair

Our economic system is in turmoil. Our resources are becoming scarce. In the meantime, we stick to the same economic models, producing more products, producing more waste. What if, in an alternative economic model, income tax is replaced with tax on raw materials? What would this mean for the design industry? Will designers offer alternative ways of creating materials, will they specialize in upcycling, concentrate on services, go digital, or do something else?

Salone di Mobile 2012

During the International Furniture Fair in Milan (Salone del Mobile), Droog presented “Material Matters: a future furniture fair,” featuring 20 design companies—both real and imagined—that might come to thrive given the change in policy. The imaginary future fair aimed to inspire designers to develop alternative business models urged by material scarcity and economic upheaval, striving for a real fair next time. Material Matters took part in Domus Open Design Archipelago, a collective laboratory that previews the future of design, located at the beautiful Palazzo Clerici in Milan.

Dutch Design Week

While we are hit with glooming predictions of ever increasing material scarcity, our material culture—from the way we consume and dispose, to the way we produce and collect, to the way we design and develop business models— largely remains unchanged. However, if one looks closely, new, old and speculative solutions to material scarcity are abundant. From classic models of reuse, to new and speculative ways of growing and gathering materials, to reviving, sharing, digitalizing, or otherwise avoiding them, a multitude of possible approaches are available.

As part of Dutch Design Week 2012, this second edition of Material Matters brought together existing, emerging and speculative initiatives by scientists, designers, entrepreneurs and ourselves, and presented them as 38 imaginary future companies that might come to thrive in the near future. The future furniture fair aims to stimulate designers to develop business models urged by material scarcity, and to broaden discussions on the future of our material culture.

Material Matters Media

Material scarcity continues to be a pressing issue of our times. The future furniture fair Material Matters brought together existing, emerging and speculative initiatives and presented them as imaginary future companies that might come to thrive in the near future. In 2013, again in Milan, Droog Lab and TD present Material Matters Media—a news broadcast raising current issues related to material scarcity featuring innovative responses by imaginary future companies.


Concept and direction Renny Ramakers (Droog)
Content and project manager Agata Jaworska (Droog), intern: Luis Giestas (Droog)
Exhibition and brand graphics TD (Theo Deutinger, Stefanos Filippas, Elisa Mante, Ana Rita Marques, Delfin Novoa)
Presentation partner Domus
Featuring 2012Architecten, anothermountainman, Christien Meindertsma, Dirk Vander Kooij, Droog, Fernando Brízio, Han Koning, Humade, Jet Vervest, Joshua Klein, Louise Maniette, Markus Kayser Studio, Studio Swine (Alexander Groves, Azusa Murakami, Kieren Jones), Suzanne Lee, Tarmo Piirmets, Tejo Remy
Funding DOEN Foundation

Droog Lab: Here, there, everywhere

Droog Lab raises topics and initiates projects in collaboration with designers, clients and partners worldwide with the aim of stimulating innovation and debate in design and society. Material Matters is part of the Droog Lab series, ‘Here, there, everywhere’. The series speculates how situations worldwide can inspire new directions for design. Project locations include New York, Moscow, Belgium and China. The initiative is funded by Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, City of Amsterdam and local partners.

Material Matters is inpired by “Het kan dus tóch anders,” by Maarten Keulemans, published by Volkskrant, January 7, 2012.