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New Materials for Design

Basic data


Laura Clèries and Robert Thompson

Duration // Schedule

2 weeks (40 hours), from July 3rd to 14th 2017 // Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2.15 p.m.




695 € (the total cost of the course will be discounted on all the students that also enroll in the 2018-19 edition of the Master in Design Through New Materials).


Basic/ Intermediate


In the domain of design and industrial practices, materials are gaining ever more relevance as important drivers for product development and innovation.

This introductory course of practical orientation is aimed towards acquiring the fundamental knowledge in new materials, their properties and characteristics from both a scientific and creative perspective, and their potentiality for product innovation. You will carry out a design project focusing on sustainability, innovation and uses. By the end of the program, you will be able to effectively apply your acquired knowledge in a wide range of design and/or practices. This course is carried out at Elisava and the Materfad Lab (DesignHUB) in Barcelona.


Aimed at
Product, fashion, interior designers, architects, artists, science students, makers


Collaborating partners
Materfad Lab (DissenyHUB)


Necessary materials: Markers, pencils, unipen, sketchbooks, sketch pads and erasers.


  • To acknowledge current context in the world of both foundational and state-of -the-art materials.
  • To understand materials characteristics from both a scientific and creative perspective.
  • To be able to recognize a material, a material state, its finish, its potential manufacturing process and possible applications in terms of functional and aesthetic qualities.
  • To use adequate terminology when describing a material, its process, finish and category.
  • To be able to select a material based on the physical requirements of a product, the appropriate processing for costing and the aesthetic qualities in terms of surface and interface with users and/or environments.
  • To adopt a comprehensive view regarding sustainability and efficiencies in materials applications while preserving innovation driven value.

Structure and contents

This course is carried out at Elisava and the Materfad Lab (DesignHUB) in Barcelona. The daily work schedule is structured in a first part, in which the theoretical contents are studied and access to physical samples of key new materials is provided. In a second part, a workshop in which the learned concepts are applied in a Design Project which is developed throughout the course.


Theoretical Phase:

The program schedule is structured by an initial theoretical component in which current innovation directions are presented - in order to frame the project-, and new materials introduced and described in terms of specific physical and creative traits. Much of the theoretical phase is supported actively by physical material samples provided by the Materfad Materials Library wherein materials may be tested, touched, weighed analyzed and witnessed from a physical point of view.

1/ Introduction. Historical overview on materials and current materials innovation trends.

2/ Basic materials concepts in design and Material families, processing and selection

3/ New Materials with focus on sustainability and innovation



Creative Phase

Theoretical content is then expanded through a creative process in which ideas are blended with theoretical know-how regarding material characteristics in order to generate a sequence of potential ideas, conceptual implementations and physical embodiment of products. Sketching techniques and visual representation shall support and story-tell the development process through its various iterations and refinements 

4/ Creative Sketching, Basic form, surface, Colour, Material & Finishes

Implementation phase

Ideas are then selected, refined and put to the test after further iterations and developments in form and connection.  Manufacturing processes are then selected and defined for proper fabrication of parts (mold making - stamping - cutting - heat forming) and their assembly. Models are then tested for meeting requirements of sustainable practices. Documentation is prepared for a final presentation of the idea, its development and final pitch. An oral and visual presentation board is composed to communicate the benefits and scope and scale of the project.

5/ Communication and graphics: Focusing on sustainability and innovation

6/ Physical model (in scale) of written documentation and product (volumes with materials)

Teaching staff


Laura Clèries is professor at ELISAVA School of Design and Engineering and Head of ELISAVA Research. With both creative and scientific backgrounds, she obtained her BA in Physical Chemistry and her PhD in Materials Science from the University of Barcelona and then pursued degree studies in Industrial Design. Laura has worked internationally as designer in main design companies (Zara Home) and design studios and as researcher for main forecasting publications and think tanks (Pantone Colour Planner, WGSN). As materials innovation consultant, she has worked for EURECAT electronic textiles division, for the architects of Jean Paul Gaultier’s headquarters, and she has curated exhibitions related to materials innovation and forecasting (Materfad - textile area- and ‘Materiality’). Her present research work focuses on futures research methodologies, as well as in materials innovation.



Robert D. Thompson is professor and scientific communicator at ELISAVA School of Design and Engineering and researcher in Somatics.  BS in Bio-prosthetics Mechanical Engineering and Medical Ethics -University of Massachussetts at Amherst, BA in Product design - Art Center College of Design and Product design implementation and strategy - INSEAD international school of Business Fountainbleu. Robert has worked internationally as industrial designer and design engineer for independent companies.  As associate professor he has dedicated more recent years in the Research and development of Somatics - a scientific approach to physicality through the language of form-function-connection. Currently Robert is a specialist in materials training and creative application of materials innovation at the Materfad Center for materials

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