The aim of Materiopedia, which has fallen into today’s mechanisms of economizing knowledge, is to study and enhance the transformation phenomenon, which evolves the materials from their original shapeless state to products, classifiable under the activity of design. To the concept of design, we attribute the very general meaning of “culture of forms”, whether material (tangible forms, shaped through the use of materials) or immaterial (ideas for shapes of different cultural languages). “If form – according to Vilém Flusser, citing him from his Philosophy of design – is the “how” of the material, and the material the “what” of form, then design is one of the methods of giving shape to material and making it appear as such and not in any other way. Design, like all cultural expressions shows that the material does not appear. Only when it has taken shape does it start to appear (becoming a phenomenon). Hence, material in design, as in any ambit of culture, is the way in which forms appear. Nevertheless, to affirm that design falls between the material and immaterial is not entirely out of place.”

Material. The materials of today – compared with those of the past, even recent – do not represent an established, static fact, but become a part of that powerfully dynamic competitive process of continual transformation, which characterizes the market of globalized society. In the face of the reuse of materials of ancient tradition (brick, wood, stone, ceramics), reinterpreted by contemporary design through an evolution of language, and by industry through innovative and flexible production processes, we witness at the same time the reinvention of some typical modern materials modern (metals, glass, concrete, plastic), and the design scene of innovative materials (structural windows, composites, photovoltaic panels, smart materials). This dynamic picture requires the continual updating of knowledge, with forms of obtaining and diffusing information on materials, processes, products and works.

Immaterial. Within this condition, the operative strategy of the line of md_material design is to promote an active collaboration among theoretical members (immaterial) of research and knowledge (in other words, assets of know-how and production of information, culture and design), and those of work organizations (industries) predominantly oriented toward the production of goods (materials), with a view to creating synergies, and transferring know-how and reciprocal opportunities of collaboration.
The actions involved in developing research projects concern:
- devising unconventional methods of network study;
- analyzing  modern production processes;
- identifying families of materials, forms, products and works;
- assessing valuable strategies in the post-Fordist economy;
- defining instruments and projects regarding the design culture.
An essential strategy of this research sector is to operate creatively within that condition, which seems to project the materially tangible “fixed scene” of design objects (whether large or small) into the immaterial condition of narrative languages of knowledge, which at the start of the third millennium, open the new frontier of the “design of information and communication”.

Alfonso Acocella

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