The Future Materials Bank is an archive of materials that supports and promotes the transition towards ecologically conscious art and design practices.
By collecting information and samples from makers around the world, the archive aims to inspire research and disseminate knowledge about sustainable materials. The collection of the Bank is continuously growing, offering insights into how the concept of sustainability evolves in the fields of art and design. We are grateful to the artists and designers who have so generously shared their material projects with us. New contributions and suggestions are always welcome; you too can become part of the Future Materials Bank community by submitting your material.
Future Materials is a collaboration between the Nature Research Department at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (host) with the MA Material Futures at UAL Central Saint Martins and the Green Art Lab Alliance (GALA).
The Future Materials Bank aims to collect and share knowledge about sustainable materials for art and design practices. It embodies a resourceful archive for material processes that advocate for ecologically conscious making practices.
Our Material Policy is shaped by how sustainability is currently practised and can be realised in the future. Within the bank are several interpretations regarding sustainability from a diverse range of practitioners.
Below is a list of questions we ask ourselves before publishing a material or making process. We hope this encourages you to think deeply about the material life-cycle of your work or offers guidance if you would like to be included in our archive. We would love to hear from you.
The questions are organised into four categories: Usability, Environmental sustainability, Social sustainability, and Afterlife of the material.
Usability refers to how accessible and transferable the knowledge required to work with a material is in different contexts. This also importantly encompasses the health and safety of the maker, user, and environment the material is a part of. Environmental Sustainability asks to what capacity the production processes impact or exploit the natural resources it undoubtedly uses. Likewise, Social Sustainability considers to what extent the human and cultural labour involved in the material life cycle is fairly acknowledged. Lastly, Afterlife considers the residual value of a material or process once it has run through its initial life cycle.
This Material Policy is progressively reviewed. We fervently welcome your feedback so we can continue to collectively address and (re)define how to transition towards truly sustainable practices.
- Is the material easy to use and work with?
- Is the material safe to use? Does it harm human health? For example, does it irritate the skin or lungs?
- Is it easy to learn the process and/or the required skills to work with it?
- Is the material free of any copyrights or patents?
- Are the ingredients organically grown or produced without negatively impacting the environment?
- Can the ingredients be sourced locally?
- Does the stock of natural resources used in the production process grow back and can it be renewed in a short period?
- Does the material contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), chemical, or fossil-based compounds?
- Does the production process of the material directly or indirectly harm animals?
- Does the material creation process have high water consumption?
- Does the material creation process generate waste?
- Does the material creation process have high energy consumption?
- Do the creation process and supply chain of the ingredients respect the fair trade code (fair wage and good working conditions)?
- Do the creation process and supply chain of the material respect civil rights?
- Are the creation process and supply chain of the material free of child labour?
- Is the material creation process based on a craft or technique with important cultural value? Is this cultural value acknowledged?
- Is the material recyclable?
- Is the material durable?
- Is the material biodegradable?
- Is the material circular?
- Is the material reusable?