We spend most of our time indoors – in our homes, at the office, in a restaurant or at the gym. Which interior offers the right environment to make sure you can perform, enjoy, relax, learn or heal optimally? And which are the best materials, colours and finishes to achieve this?

The most important innovations involve a healthy environment with optimal acoustics; lots of daylight, a healthy air quality and a lot of green and natural materials that are low maintenance. The interior is flexible, playful, original, sustainable, circular and preferably multifunctional. From constructive bamboo to custom-made cast floors, from particulate matter catching carpets to recycled furniture, from luminescent ceilings to furniture made of seaweed and coffee, and even 3D printed floors and furniture. One thing is clear; the interior of the future will not be dull.

During Domotex 2019 in Shanghai, MaterialDistrict staged an expo with the theme “Trending Topics.” MaterialDistrict is the ‘World’s leading platform in the field of innovative materials, empowering innovation by match-making material needs with material solutions.’

At Domotex this exhibition was entirely dedicated to the latest and most popular material themes for architecture and design. Trending Topics was an exhibition with 300 international materials that showcased the newest trends and developments of materials including lightweight; recycled; bio-based; durable; printed and beautiful materials you have never seen before.

The development of materials is all about new surfaces, sustainable challenges, and new material sources to make smarter and beautiful buildings and interiors. What are the latest trends? Which materials are the most popular? How about floors made of your grannie’s cabinet? Or liquid floors made of cork? Or carpets made of palm leather? MaterialDistrict selected 300 materials for this special exhibition ‘Trending Topics’ such as recycled trash terrazzo, translucent concrete, smart composites, acoustic felt made of recycled bottles, stone combined with wood in one composite and many more exciting new materials.

Flooring material highlights

At Domotex several highlights were on display to stimulate your imagination. ‘Jungle’ is made from the roots of felled trees. Being underground, the material hasn’t seen daylight but with its liquid grain texture, it captures the imagination with a pixelated framework. The material displayed is made from Teak roots that are cut and sanded before treatment with DTM wood preservative and Fungiflex.

‘NewspaperWood’ is a new material invented by Mieke Meijer, developed together with, and licensed to the Dutch design label VIJS. The material is a reversal of the traditional production process: making wood from paper. ‘Plastic Stone Tiles’ are made with German patented technology using natural stone. Tile-stone veneers are created by transferring the thin stone layer onto a fibreglass sheet using a strong adhesive. ‘Yacht and Spa carpet’ was developed for outdoor use on yachts, spa’s and pool areas. It’s only available in one colour standard unless ordered for large projects where it can be customised in various colour combinations.

Other fascinating flooring materials not on display in Shanghai but worthy of note include ‘Vlisco Carpet.’ Designer Simone Post makes beautiful carpets out of misprints of Vlisco fabric. Vlisco produces wax fabrics, which are exported mainly to the African market. Misprints, however, cannot be sold. Simone makes her carpets with these misprints and other waste fabrics. Another interesting product is ‘De Duurzame Tegel,’ a sustainable paving tile made with the bottom ash left over after incinerating household waste. Currently, fifteen per cent of sand and gravel in the concrete for the tiles is replaced by bottom ash, and the aim is to make that thirty per cent in the future. This amounts to about 15 paving tiles per person in amount of waste.

Interiors in 100 years

Dutch designers and conceptual thinkers Niels van Eijk and Miriam van der Lubbe of design studio Van Eijk & Van der Lubbe have been working and designing for cultural institutions and businesses that focus on the future. They were interviewed at a MaterialDistrict show in Rotterdam during March this year about interiors of the future. They noted that it would be impossible to say, as it would already be difficult to determine how the interior would look even ten years from now. In 100 years, life will be different. It’s possible that by then, work as we know it now won’t even exist anymore, and perhaps through materialization, the borders of inside and out will no longer be there.

The pair did a study for Volvo and said, “Only a few more years and the self-driving car is here. All focus is on the technological development and what it means for public roads and personal liability. But we (as designers) are more interested in what it means for us as the driver. When a car dives autonomously, the driver doesn’t have to hold the steering wheel anymore. Then we have extra time and extra space. How can you design or fill that? We think that the same goes for interior. The moment technology is developed to relieve us, what do we get back? The best thing would be if that high-tech developments have an influence on our low-tech life. Then you can consider which needs you have, as a human.”

They continue, “The most important material innovations for interiors is the development of sustainable production and laying as little claim as possible on fossil fuels. Sustainability is essential and designers play an important role in that. They translate idea and demand into materialization but there will always be a discussion with questions like, how much is it allowed to cost, how much trouble may it cause for the production process, how do you burden the consumer?

The development of bio-based material is now a hot topic, like the cradle-to-cradle development was important before that, and eco-design before that. Every time frame has its own consciousness of producing sustainably. In our view, the separate disciplines within design will disappear in the future. There used to be a private need for designing, for people to feel like artists. While that certainly has a raison d’être, the time we live in now demands a more public approach. If you want to work with every possibility our time has to offer, then collaboration is the most important development.”

About MaterialDistrict

MaterialDistrict (formerly Materia) is the world’s leading match-making platform in the field of innovative materials. MaterialDistrict has six market sector categories including architecture and interiors that encourage joint innovation towards a better, more sustainable and higher quality society. Over 150,000 R&D and design professionals of all industries including the flooring industry are using their platform to discover new material solutions; daily via MaterialDistrict.com, annually at MaterialDistrict Rotterdam and periodically throughout the year with travelling MaterialDistrict Expos like Domotex in Shanghai. s