What Industry Needs From the Individual: The Rise of the Material-Maker

  • Speakers:
  • Purva Chawla, Adele Orcajada, Daphne Stylianou

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Established design agencies, tech giants, brands and large manufacturers create a vast volume of the designed products we consume and experience today. Yet, extraordinary innovation is emerging from graduates and solo makers–especially in the realm of sustainable and bio-designed materials. Material makers are becoming essential protagonists as connectors of all kinds of disciplines, combining science, art, technology, anthropology, and engineering. Challenging the way design is understood, they produce out of the box formats and production processes that are better attuned to our evolving needs and aesthetics. However material makers compete against established manufacturers and struggle to reach the market.

What and how can industry draw from this growing reservoir of innovation? And how can it adequately support and partner with individual material-makers, for a bright future of design?


Purva Chawla

Purva Chawla

Director at MaterialDriven

After practicing as an architect in the United States, Purva founded MaterialDriven–a materials-focussed education platform and design consultancy in 2016. Now based in London, her work focusses on Circular Design and Material Innovation, while building MaterialDriven to act as a bridge between emerging material-makers and established manufacturers. The company is modeled as an incubator for design talent, bringing architects, developers and diverse brands in contact with curated, innovative design and its makers.

Adele Orcajada

Adele Orcajada

Project Coordinator

Adele has a background in developing extraordinary craft accessories for fashion–working with communities in Peru, Ecuador, Europe, and Asia. Seeking material innovation is one of her passions. During her Masters in Applied Imagination at Central Saint Martins, she researched the relationship between materials, culture, and identity. She has been Curator and Material Researcher at a London Materials Library, developed exhibitions that support designers and architects in their material discovery, and now at MaterialDriven, supports and connects a new generation of material makers with industry.

Daphne Stylianou

Daphne Stylianou

Daphne is a London-based researcher interested in material culture, whose background in anthropology references cultural, social and creative processes in design. Her research into making and open design interrogates the blurred boundaries between designer and user, and the engagement of process, practice, and materiality. Working within trans-disciplinary design, she investigates co-design methods for social innovation and sustainability.

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