Next big thing in innovation design: a library of MATERials

Oana Vasiliu 17/11/2017 | 08:34

If you work in the Romanian creative sector, then you have probably heard the talk of the town: the recently launched library of materials, the biggest one in this part of Europe. MATER is a Materials Library – an extended, constantly-renewed collection of material samples. It is the ideal space for any material lover – architects, interior designers, industrial designers, fashion and jewelry designers, illustrators, artists, constructors and advertising professionals. Business Review bounces off the library’s walls for our readers.

The first thing that crossed my mind when rumors that a materials library would be launched in Bucharest was “why?”

“The need for a materials library was born inside the community of architects and designers at Nod Makerspace. Since creatives work a lot with samples of all types of materials (wood, glass, textiles, composites etc.), the idea was raised to organize a wall with various materials so that everyone could consult them. Starting from the idea of a simple wall, the project developed into an extended space of 1000 sqm dedicated to materials. We discovered that material libraries existed in all the big cities of the world, we visited some of them and discovered how inspiring (and useful!) it is to have all the textures and technical info of various materials in one place – and that’s how MATER was born,” explained Sabina Baciu, the project manager for Business Review. Rock, ceramics, metal, textile, composites, glass, plastic, coatings, concrete, wood, sustainable and experimental, these are the main categories of materials you can find there. New York, Bangkok, Beijing, Cologne, Daegu, Istanbul, Milan, Seoul and Shanghai are some of the cities that have already implemented such a library. It’s definitely the next big idea in design when it comes to innovation for those working in the sector. Having everything in one place makes you more creative and, why not, a future inventor of a material.

1,000 sqm space

The Library with more than 3,000 materials

Multifunctional Venue space designed for up to 120 people

Hub private working space

“Romania and the region of South-Eastern Europe needs a place like MATER in order to develop its material knowledge base – starting from education about types of materials and their uses, to comparing and selecting the best materials for creative projects and researching new materials and applications,” says the official presentation of the library. And we could not agree more.

The huge space is divided so that people can work on their projects, get inspired by the materials, take part in conferences and seminars, as well as bring partners and clients to consult and compare the exhibited materials. It’s for sure the coolest place to work in the city at the moment.

Meet and greet the MATER team

The project is initiated by Nod Makerspace and the co-founding team consists of Sabina Baciu as project manager, Florin Cobuz as head of development and Tamina Lolev as head of research. Other team members include Sandy Bălășoiu – master librarian and a whole team of librarians that will guide people in discovering the materials at MATER. “We knew each other for some time as we all work in the creative industries development field and it was a great experience to join our forces for such an awesome project,” underlined Sabina Baciu.

Get in on the ground floor

When I asked Sabina what the most difficult part of this project was, she said, “continuing to develop and manage MATER as a sustainable and healthy business.” What happens in the 1,000-sqm space also brings an educational value of the project and its added value for the creative community. They must find the right balance in continuing to bring new and interesting content as well as bringing long-term partners that want to invest in the project. “Another challenge is to leverage the fact that MATER is the first materials library in Romania and Eastern Europe – we already had visits from material libraries in Europe and Asia and are ready to become an important European center in this topic,” added Sabina.

Money, money, money

Some part of the investment in this library was raised through crowdfunding, although in Romania, this type of campaign doesn’t necessarily work. “We were super happy that we had over 200 supporters (211 to be more exact) in the crowdfunding campaign and we raised EUR 18,722 – 125% of our objective of EUR 15,000,” explained the project manager.

The sum raised is the biggest one reached on a Romanian crowdfunding platform so far. Besides this, they created the MATER pass, which offers access to the material samples exhibited in the library, the online database, visits for clients & partners to work and consult on materials for a project (limited to 12 entries per year), the community of professionals formed around MATER, which includes architects, designers, artists, constructors, makers and other creatives and the calendar of events organized at MATER. Everything costs EUR 120 and is valid for 12 months.

What’s next for MATER?

The team still has to finish indexing all the material samples. “We now have 2,000 samples in the library, by the end of the year, we will showcase 3,000 and by the end of 2018, we plan to have 10,000 samples,” adds Baciu. They also want to have a great visitor experience at the library.


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