Much of what I’ve been discussing has focused on technical possibility and, to a lesser extent, ecological implications of the future of materials and what it means for design. Of course, no design should proceed just because it is simply novel and feasible — design should always be concerned with what should be done. Is it desirable? Does it fulfill a need? Is the world going to be better off with it? That said, altogether the implications ahead of these technologies are huge. In an age of intelligent matter, physical design will no longer be three-dimensional and static. The fourth dimension, time, and behavior will come to the physical tactile world just as it has existed in the digital realm to date, and designers will need to think about the possibilities and opportunities to create meaningful user experiences driven by these new parameters.

[17] Sharklet (

[18] Lotusan (

[19] Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering (

[20] Jennifer Lewis, Wyss Institute (

[21] Neri Oxman, Mediated Matter Group (


[23] Achim Menges, Center for Design Computation, University of Stuttgart (

[24] Doris Sung, USC (

[25] French architect Jean Nouvel’s celebrated Arab Institute in Paris (1988) employed a fagade system composed of an array of electronically controlled oculi, like camera lenses, to control the heat gain in the building from daily sunlight (http://www.

[26] Chuck Hoberman, Adaptive Building Initiative (

[27] Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (

[28] Claytronics, Carnegie Mellon University (

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