Sustainable Materials for Design


Robert Thompson

Duration // Schedule

July, 13-24 2020 (40 hours) 
Monday to friday, from 10 a.m. to 2.15 p.m.




Basic / Intermediate


840 €. Bold members of Elisava Alumni will enjoy a 15% reduction. The total cost of the course will be discounted on all the students that also enroll in the 2019-20 edition of the Master in Design Through New Materials.

In the domain of design and industrial practices, materials are gaining ever more relevance as important drivers for product development and innovation, more specifically in promoting a more sustainable future and empower circular economies.

A circular economy begins when the life of a product does it so. Both the design phase and the production processes have an impact on the supply, the use of resources and the generation of waste throughout the life of a product. This circular design approach can make products more durable or easier to repair, upgrade or remanufacture. It can help people who recycle to disassemble products to recover valuable materials and components. In general, this focus can help saving precious resources. The circular design implies service design, product design and also material design. Most materials have an infinite life cycle. They can be reused, reshaped and redesigned with a new purpose. By taking advantage of the unexplored potential of the materials, we can implement social, economic, environmental and political changes through an intersectoral approach.

So, what if we use creativity to provide better circular economy solutions through the ideation of new materials?

This "Design of Circular Materials" is a program of Summer School that addresses the training and exposure of new materials designers towards a better circular economy and its positive impact on the industry or the creation of an alternative creative industry. More specifically, the objective of this course is to work on the development of materials driven by waste with a focus on the product, fashion and interior design, through the acquisition of the theoretical foundations of materials, the development of the experimentation and development of practical materials and the development of a communication package for its dissemination.

  • 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 address Specialist Materials Designers skills gaps. 
  • To be able to experiment and acquire knowledge in materials processing 
  • To able to recognize a material, a material state, it finish, its potential manufacturing process and possible applications in terms of functional and aesthetic qualities 
  • To adopt a comprehensive view regarding sustainability and efficiencies, in materials applications while preserving and meeting innovation driven value-added approach when developing novelty in a design project 
  • To use adequate terminology and glossary for materials and materials for circular design and to be able to communicate in a visual and engaging form a materials design project

This course of Summer School is carried out at Elisava clasrooms and laboratories, together with Materials capsules visits to the Materfad Lab (DesignHUB) in Barcelona. 

The programme consists in 3 blocks: 

Materials for design Foundations: Understanding the historical overview and current state-of-the-art in the world of materials, including materials for circular economies. 

  • Materials foundations: Overview of materials families and their characteristics. Circular materials foundations: glossary of materials for circular design, case studies, sourcing and materials processing.
  • Materials Capsules sessions at Materfad, with access to physical samples exploration, wherein materials may be tested, touched, weighed analyzed and witnessed from a physical point of view. 

Hands-on project development: Materials Experimentation in the Laboratory: hands-on development of waste-driven materials Sustainability and industrial impact of materials for circular design.

Communication of the project: Surface design lab: art direction and colour & trim finishings of your project Development of sector market positioning and application Development of visual communication of the Circular materials design project.

Robert Thompson
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.

Laura Clèries
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.

We use our own and third-party cookies to improve your experience.

If you continue browsing, we consider that you accept our

cookie policy