Bubble Spacer by OPT Industries

Innovative Material Trends 2022+

Architect@Work is an annual global trade event for architects and interior designers. The event returned to London after pandemic with a curated exhibition of latest innovative materials.

Image: Bubble Spacer by OPT industries inspired by biological systems created using additive manufacturing system

MaterialDriven curated a display for the event to explore the key role that design is playing to support our society, promoting human health and wellbeing.

The focus was on healthy alternatives such as plant-based plastics and leathers that sequester carbon, new and biobased masonry formats, naturally performing materials, non-toxic bacterial colour solutions, as well as pollution-based and pollution-absolving materials.

Trends & examples


Since pandemic nature driven and planetary design has really taken off, and it is great to see growing variety of options now available.

  • Acoustic decorative wallcoverings from natural raw materials are bio-based, 100% reusable (73% colon cellulose), fire resistant, breathable, hydrophobic, mechanical resistant and fully sustainable https://lnx.milleforma.it/about-us/?lang=en
  • Living ink is creating sustainable ink products from algae. Black algae pigment has a negative carbon footprint, it is bio-based and resistant to UV-light exposure. https://livingink.co/
  • NATURALISE is a living hammock that uses soil-less living plants as main material to create a woven fabric that is alive. Spanish moss is a plant that needs no soil to grow, and requires little water. As an ongoing research project, it is a call to avoid the Throw-Away culture and create objects that are alive. https://www.ainhoagarmendia.com/


  • SCALITE® is the first material ever made exclusively from fish scales, a by-product of the fishing industry. It is 100% natural, no chemical additives. SCALITE® uses a natural biopolymer contained within the scales. It has a stone-like texture. So, it can be a substitute for MDF and concrete. https://www.scale.vision/
  • Biotile is made from by-products of wine, hemp, tobacco. It is biodegrable and compostable. https://gilesmiller.com/work/view/eco-range/
  • Fruitleather is made from discarded fruit. In the production of the raw material natural additives are used to preserve the Fruitleather sheets. https://fruitleather.nl/introduction-2/
  • Food and garden waste composite materials. Natural colouring, biodegradable. Replacing wood, stone, marble. https://www.ottanstudio.com/


Reef Design Lab, Architecture@Work 2022 Reef Design Lab creates coastal habitat infrastructure and artificial reefs. The studio collaborates with international research partners to develop techniques for enhancing the ecological performance of marine structures. RDL has developed a range of cost effective artificial reef units that minimise material, maximise complex habitat and meet current marine standards. https://www.reefdesignlab.com/


  • Elastire is made out of recycled tires. 200000 tons of tires is collected each year. The material has high technological performance and many applications. It has excellent thermal and acoustic capacity, and it is extremely durable. https://www.neomatique.es/inicio
  • 3D printed wood from wood waste. The Forust process combines two wood industry byproducts – sawdust and lignin – to produce isotropic, high-strength, sustainable wood parts. Unlike particle board or laminate, Forust produces 3D printed, digitally rematerialized wood, with grain that flows across the entire part and can be sanded and refinished. The Forust process has the ability to mimic almost any wood grain. https://www.forust.com/
  • Compostboard is rather comparable with wood, the production possibilities are the same together with the way the material acts as interior product. The fibres come from local organic waste streams as hemp chips, straw dust, and old flowers. In the afterlife of Compostboard, the material breaks down to nutritious fibres and sugars. Leaving it’s surrounding more fertile. http://rikmakes.com/


  • A new composite material made from desert sand that is strong as concrete but fully reusable and more sustainable. Finite has the same strength as residential concrete and traditional housing bricks but is fully reusable and has half the carbon footprint of concrete. Finite can be cast into any shape or size. It can also be coloured with natural pigments and does not need to be fired like clay making it less energy intensive. Due to its material properties, Finite can be remolded for multiple lifecycle uses. https://hamzaoza.com/projects/finite/
  • Carbon negative concrete (patented curing process) involves the injection of CO2 into an absorption chamber where it reacts with the steel slag within the fresh concrete. During the carbonation process, the CO2 is permanently captured and converted into stable calcium carbonates, filling the voids of the matrix to form a dense structure and giving the concrete its strength. A 100% reduction of the carbon dioxide emissions from eliminating cement use in concrete. It drives net negative emissions with the permanent sequestration of carbon dioxide that is mineralized in the product curing. https://carbicrete.com/technology/
  • Alternatives to synthetics. Pyratex can replace synthetic fabrics with natural, equally functional ones. Production chain from plant to fabric is a traceable process ensuring the lowest environmental impact using low impact dyes or water recycling.  https://www.pyratex.com/

Nowadays it is possible to find a more sustainable, imaginative and beautiful options to most materials, and clients increasingly want more responsible choices. Using earth destroying materials has become unacceptable and unethical.

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