I had the pleasure of meeting Purva Chawla, Founder and Partner at Material Driven, a vast library of innovative, sustainable materials from cutting edge brands. Adele Orcajada, also a Partner, operates from London, while Purva recently made Dallas her homebase. Let's take a look at how they bridge the gap between designer and maker.
This feature is part of our Designing for Well-being series.
Tell us when Material Driven was formed and the premise behind it.
Material Driven came to life in 2016. At that time our intention was to broadcast the innovation that was taking place with materials and their making. We were showcasing designers and manufacturers around the world, particularly in Europe then, who were inventing unique products and processes used in interiors and architecture.
After Adele and I joined forces in London, our services expanded. Now we also provide consultancy and design services to our clients, helping them choose better sustainable materials.
What services do you provide to the Trade?
We provide consultancy work to designers, architects and clients in the Trade. Our consultancy revolves around Material Research, Market Intelligence, Material Sourcing, Supplier Introductions, Trends Insights and Product Development. We also work with them to create material-focused installations like our recent work for the AC Hotel by Marriott in Washington DC (image below).
Walk us through how a designer or architect would work with you…
Designers and architects come to us in two ways --The first is when they are broadly seeking inspiration and innovation for their projects, or trying to make material choices that are more natural or healthy. The second is when they have a very specific brief and are looking for a direct solution.
Let's say a designer comes to us looking for sources for a hotel lobby installation, we offer them up to 30 new and untapped sources that would fit the bill. It could be an install that needs acoustical panels to absorb sound or it could be purely visual. We understand their needs and present samples accordingly. We provide pricing, lead times, limitations, end of life information and more. Eventually, this leads to a final set of materials which they can start to roll out in their projects, and we introduce them to the manufacturers or makers of these materials.
If the designer has a very specific brief or need, we offer them a short list of contenders, samples and all necessary information. Once the designer has made some choices, we conduct introductions between designer and maker.
Finally, as we are a team of designers ourselves, some clients bring us onboard to take projects from concept to delivery. So whether it is art installations, or standalone products or elements of interior architecture, we help the architect, designer or developer conceptualize it with innovative materials, and then take responsibility for the build, installation and delivery as well.
You have locations in London and Dallas... how are the two audiences different? What opportunities do you see in Dallas in terms of educating designers and the materials you can connect them with?
The most obvious difference between both audiences is how much or how little materials are being talked about. In London, we are one of 5-6 agencies who specialize in materials consulting, and everyone, from universities, to brands, to large architectural firms, and trade shows constantly has their eye on the subject and is talking about it. This is not the case in Dallas yet.
The other, interesting shift I noticed during my years in London was how architectural and interior design studios, among other clientele, started to first and foremost view materials from a problem-solving lens, rather than aesthetic and budget factors. Materials are chosen to mitigate challenges such as pollution, waste, resource scarcity, health and well-being. In Dallas it's more about synthetic materials because the focus is primarily on aesthetic. But that presents an opportunity for us to start having larger conversations and educating designers here.
The other clear opportunity in Dallas is just how many incredible firms are based and headquartered here, so it's just a matter of getting their attention and aiding them in material choices and outcomes.
What materials/brands are you most excited about these days?
Ah, so many! I’ll have to limit myself to three:
1. LivingCap -- They have a collection called Mixcycling, made with organic waste, but so ripe for use in packaging and product design space, and at massive scale.
2. Foresso is a Timber Terrazzo material, made with wood and plaster waste, among other recycled content. It's great for interior architecture and flooring. The narrative and environmental footprint from this material is a big win.
3. Giles Miller Studio creates highly sensory bespoke surfaces and sculptures using a growing palette of ceramic, metallic, wood and stone-based material modules.
Material Driven can be reached here.