AI9_7_2017_4_06_37_AM_Ma_tt_er_mi.jpg
Seetal Solanki, the creator of Ma-tt-er

"I had more than twelve years of experience working across a multitude of industries such as automotive, fashion, sportswear, architecture, lighting and a bit of technology before I even began Ma-tt-er. All of these experiences had me questioning the purpose of it all and wanted to create a place that we could be understood and felt a sense of belonging"

The material Library

The motivation behind the physical and soon to be digital materials library is to have a display and resource for the projects and clients that provide the tools to a project.

Raw material farm

Ma-tt-er works with other freelancers and experts who could range from design anthropologists, scientists, geologists, conservationists and others.

Ma-tt-er Obonjan workshop

The way in which the library is categorised is down to the materials properties/characteristics rather than type of material.

Sophie Rowley Bahia Denim Tiles
Dye from the willow project

"Whole systems thinking is an approach we apply to each material of choice. This means we dissect the raw material to individual parts which is then studied and experimented with to create materials with different attributes and a variety of applications. The Willow Project from the Product Design students at the Iceland Academy of the Arts is a great example of of this approach."

Polly Redfern Maize Matter.
Will Yates-Johnson Polyspolia
AI9_7_2017_4_06_37_AM_Ma_tt_er_mi.jpg
Workspace 08 Sep 2017

Seetal Solanki, about Ma-tt-er, and saving the environment, one material at a time

Extraordinary are the people who perceive the ordinary, but with a little extra. Such is Seetal Solanki, a material conservationist. Seetal seeks to explore the full potential that seemingly ordinary materials hold, to transpire into designs of the future. Be it using steel to weave, or plastic as joinery; from insect carcass to seaweed, she aims to investigate it all. Like the conductor of a musical ensemble, Seetal orchestrates all that goes into the scientific, cultural, social, and economical research of a material, to successfully administer the use of the material with negligible waste generation.

The Story of Ma-tt-er

Ma-tt-er stemmed out of Seetal’s frustration with the lack of understanding of materials and their potential. The project set about to create not only a space for designers such as herself to be understood, and feel a sense of belonging, but to also annihilate the lack of awareness about materials and their capabilities.

As Seetal aptly points out, “Whether it be the laptop you’re typing on, the mug you’re drinking your morning coffee from or even the food you’re eating and the plate that you’re eating it out of, they are all made from materials and add a sense of purpose and meaning to our daily lives. Basically, we are aiming to understand what we are made of.”

Seetal Solanki, the creator of Ma-tt-er

"I had more than twelve years of experience working across a multitude of industries such as automotive, fashion, sportswear, architecture, lighting and a bit of technology before I even began Ma-tt-er. All of these experiences had me questioning the purpose of it all and wanted to create a place that we could be understood and felt a sense of belonging"

Ma-tt-er dwells into the identity, origin, behaviour and properties of materials – big and small, familiar and rare. The lifecycle, process, purpose and economical value of each material is researched, experimented and studied in depth, thus exhibiting the material in a light we hadn’t witnessed before. Operating as a studio, a consultancy, a school, a library and a platform, Ma-tt-er allows learning and engaging with people in order to create a positive social, economical and environmental impact.

The material Library

The motivation behind the physical and soon to be digital materials library is to have a display and resource for the projects and clients that provide the tools to a project.

The Material Library: A process that goes beyond

A crucial part of Ma-tt-er is its online material library, the more public facet of the organisation. The website hopes that people will be able to look at familiar materials from our daily lives from a scientific perspective.

Constant research, conversations, meetings and design trade shows are organised to correctly source materials. After which each material is thoroughly researched, and then catalogued. Unlike the typical scheme of cataloguing, Ma-tt-er’s material library is categorised down to the materials properties, rather than the type of material.

Raw material farm

Ma-tt-er works with other freelancers and experts who could range from design anthropologists, scientists, geologists, conservationists and others.

 

“Traditionally, material libraries have been categorised by wood, metal, plastic, glass etc., which only allows the user to apply the material towards the end of the project and perhaps becomes an afterthought. If the materials are put into a category because of their physical/mechanical properties, we can start introducing the materials from as early as the concept stage of a brief, which is exactly what we do with all our briefs and clients, making the projects so much more holistic and purposeful.”

Looking at her website, you would see, materials and products are exhibit in the form of a periodic table, catalogued broadly as "everyday", "expansive" and "science". These catagories are then further divided as per the final conclusion of each product.

Ma-tt-er Obonjan workshop

The way in which the library is categorised is down to the materials properties/characteristics rather than type of material.

Sophie Rowley Bahia Denim Tiles

An Excerpt of her work: Seaweed

When asked for an example of a revolutionary material, Seetal’s fascinating response was seaweed. “It is completely renewable as it requires very little energy and additional resources to grow. It can be used in dye, textiles, furniture, housing, as food, fuel, photosynthetic devices to power your home and so much more.” Well, who would have thought?

Seetal’s work, research and experimentation with seaweed has been a wondrous journey, that culminated in a 2-day workshop at the Design Museum at London, with seaweed as the material in emphasis for naturally dyeing rugs, yarns and fabrics.

The Possibility of an Ecological Tomorrow

Using each and every material to its full proficiency might just be the answer to our woes of unsustainability. Not only could Seetal’s whole system of employing materials guide us to a zero waste future, but it also encourages a material-driven approach to design and manufacturing. Living in our age, Seetal believes that the truly sustainable way of living combines the naturally available and the biologically synthesised in terms of material.

Polly Redfern Maize Matter.
Will Yates-Johnson Polyspolia

In a country like India, one of our major crises is the population that continues to surpass the available resources.“The resources may not come from available resources but the resourcefulness of people working together collecting plastics and reusing them to make them fit for purpose is extremely commendable”, she says as she points out the potential India holds.{{image-9}}

Having worked with industries ranging from apparel to automobile, to footwear, Ma-tt-er’s work as collaborations are a vital effort in creating a positive change that comes from understanding the endless possibilities each material has to offer.

Tap into Seetal Solanki’s world of materials at ma-tt-er.org.
Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter for more updates.