Q&A: Innovating Materials for Architecture and Design

Q&A: Innovating Materials for Architecture and Design
The Cimento Collection. Courtesy of the company.

The Italian company Materially, launched in January 2020, works to connect material creators and professionals seeking material solutions for projects. In this interview, we dig into three notable materials put forward by Materially.

Milan-based Materially helps companies in the development and promotion of sustainable innovation starting from materials. A team researches daily and dialogues constantly with the various players in the world of materials—from universities to start-ups to companies offering or looking for solutions to be applied in their manufacturing processes.

We speak with Executive Director Anna Pellizzari to learn more about three special materials and the company’s most recent involvement in architecture and design projects.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Can you tell us about the company?

Anna Pellizzari: We connect materials companies with actors in various industries seeking material solutions for their projects. Being based in Milan, architecture and interior materials are one of our core business areas. We also manage a big event during the design week in Milan, called Materials Village. Currently, we’re trying to promote materials manufacturers on our website and circulating news on materials, not only for architecture and design but for other industries as well.

We launched the company [Materially] in January 2020. We had another name before. It was Material ConneXion Italia. The original company, Material ConneXion, founded in 2002, is an American brand. We are licensees and partners. Since we used their company name and logo, it was difficult to create business activities that were unrelated to their business. We decided to rebrand the company, create a new company, although we’re still their partners for the materials library.

CIMENTO® manufactures panels for wall, floor and facade claddings. Courtesy of the brand.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: How did launching the company in 2020 work out? Did you see any decrease in activities?

Anna Pellizzari: We had to give up the physical activities that were supposed to be part of our business plan for 2020. We switched online for certain activities. We held an online event, webinars and continued with our consulting projects. Most of our revenue comes from consulting on material innovation, providing material solutions and sustainability programs.

Some industries were particularly hit badly, like fashion. Others, less. Any companies selling products related to the house, including furniture, had an increase. Since people have been staying more at home and saving money, many of them decided to upgrade their homes. The outdoor sports industry, among others, also didn’t suffer at all, but those such as the building industry were really impacted. No one knows what’s going to happen, though, so no one is investing in innovation. That’s the bad side of the coin.

Here’s some information about three note-worthy materials represented by Materially, as explained on the company’s website.

The Cimento Collection. Courtesy of the company.

CIMENTO® is an innovative patented material for unusual applications, in the name of eco-sustainability. It’s a patented cement compound that brings the typical effect of exposed concrete in unexplored contexts. It’s produced entirely in Italy in a factory focused on eco-sustainable perspectives.

The company manufactures panels for wall, floor and facade claddings that reinterpret and update traditional concrete through new tactile and aesthetic values, structural lightness and wide application versatility.

Through a collaboration with designers, the company produced the CIMENTO® Collection complete with monolithic and sculptural tables, coffee tables, seats, benches and bookcases, capable of adorning and giving a strong personality to the most diverse environments.

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The company Zanusolegno processes materials in its workshop of ultra-natural words, such as the StoneOak® which is a precious wood with a thousand-year-old history.

The logs of StoneOak slipped under the ground after landslides and upheavals of the surface forest and remained wrapped and protected under layers of clay and thus naturally preserved for centuries up to today. These trees have not been felled, but recovered from the subsoil and, based on the areas of origin, they are cut and slow-dried to counteract the effects of the long stay in contact with water. 

The colors of this wood can be quite irregular, ranging from light gray to dark yellow and deep black. The recovery areas are in Central Europe and Asia and at each excavation, carbon-14 dating is carried out to obtain precise data. Certifications are available on request. Thanks to skillful workmanship, StoneOak® is now available for architects and designers who want to realize furniture with natural materials that bring extra value to their projects.

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Mixcycling® srl is the innovative start-up R&D that researches and develops innovative materials by exploiting the properties of vegetable fibers derived from production waste, preferably at 0 km, and merging them with polymers from renewable organic resources, recycled or virgin, through an innovative patent-pending process. 

The aim is to reduce the polymeric component significantly and offering a sustainable and concrete alternative. Mixcycling® promotes a new bio-economy model by creating a community for those who want to develop sustainable products “ad hoc” with sustainable bio-based materials.

Whether they are durable products for industries such as the automotive and interior design or smart components for agribusiness, e-devices, and more, Mixcycling® gives a second life to organic production waste generating surprising materials, with an appealing look, suitable for high-level design applications, natural soul, pleasant to the eye, pleasant to the touch and especially respectful of our planet.

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