Next.Materials Library: Experience New Materials With All Senses

Let Hochschule Hannover tickle your senses as Hubert introduces us to the Next.Materials Library in this third edition of Universitour!

Winter in Germany is famously bone-chilling. There is not much to do outdoors during the season, and it can get quite dreary after a while. That particular fact was a big issue to us as we were in Germany during autumn and winter — there was never a break for us to warm our freezing bodies. However, we were very lucky because the buildings of Hochschule Hannover offer comfortable refuge for its students during such grey weather. Out of all their cosy buildings, one of the most exciting spaces, in my opinion, is the Next.Materials Library. While conventional libraries are often filled with books, this one is filled with over 2000 materials[1] which we can experience with (almost) all of our senses.

The discovery of this peculiar library started with the simple fact that there were only four IISMA awardees at Hochschule Hannover. Coincidently, we all signed up for a course called “Strategies for Sustainable Design.” The course introduced us to modern methods of implementing experimental, sustainable, and eco-friendly materials for products and design. During one of the sessions, our lecturer, Jule Eidam, invited us to visit Next.Materials Library to check out the sustainable materials available on campus. And with that little glimpse of an introduction, It was the beginning of my many visits to the library.


Next.Materials Library is located at the Expo Plaza 2 building of Hochschule Hannover — around 30 minutes of commuting from the city centre. There are thousands of samples in the library from the areas of metal, stone, plastic, plants, animal materials, and textiles. Weaving through its catalogues and sample placement can be overwhelming, and that is where Hanna Niemeyer comes in. Hanna is the staff in charge of the library, and I’m lucky to say we became friends over time. Nonetheless, she seems to know where everything is, and it has saved me so much time from getting lost amongst the literal mountain of materials stored in the library.

Besides the classic materials mentioned above, there are also samples that are of more advanced matter. For example, there were samples of air-gel, aluminium foam, acetylated wood, deep-drawable rattan, sintered glass, and bio-plastics. And get this, the best part was that we were encouraged to not just look at the samples but also touch, smell, and perhaps gently knock them to really feel or even hear the materials. Do whatever you want to those materials — just don’t lick them, I beg of you.

Despite its extensive gallery, the library constantly tries to expand its collection. One of their ways to find new samples is by allowing students to request and order samples they need for academic purposes.  This move is justified simply because these materials must be studied extensively before finally being utilised in society’s daily life. I was amazed by how many innovations have been made to create better materials in an effort for a more sustainable future, and even more surprised to see an institution so supportive of material development. However, I was at my most ecstatic point when I came to learn that some of these sustainable materials are abundant in Indonesia.

Bananatex® – a material that you can find in the Next.Materials Library

For example, who would have thought you could turn fish skin into wearable leather? Nanaileather is made from organically farmed salmon fish as a by-product of the smoked salmon industry.[2] Although not abundant with salmon, Indonesia is a maritime country with more than plenty of fish species in its waters — all that can also potentially produce high-quality leather. Another interesting sample is the Bananatex®: the world’s first durable, technical fabric made purely from the naturally grown Abacá banana plants. It is incredibly strong and durable while remaining soft, lightweight, and supple.[3] The fact that Indonesia is home to more than 1000 species of bananas[4] can become a gateway for the country to produce materials like the Bananatex® internally, hence helping out in, but not limited to, Indonesia’s sustainable fashion industry. 

As a design student, I am excited to see what innovation can be applied to Indonesia. Although it sounds like a daydream, the future of sustainable material with a modern approach is within our reach. I have seen with my own eyes that there are many ways for materials to be produced and modified. With the right and creative minds that build up Indonesia’s current youth and the country’s natural resources and craftsmanship, I believe we have a solid opportunity to collaborate and produce innovative materials for a more sustainable future.


References

  1. Hochschule Hannover. (n.d.). Materialwerkstatt – Fakultät III. Fakultät III. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://f3.hs-hannover.de/studium/werkstaettenlaborestudios/materialwerkstatt
  2. Salmo Leather GmbH. (n.d.). Company – Nanai – Nanai Leather – Salmo Leather – Lachsleder. Nanai Leather. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://www.nanai.com/nanai/unternehmen/?lang=en
  3. QWSTION International GmbH. (n.d.). BANANATEX®. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://www.bananatex.info/index.html
  4. Background (n.d). Bali International Research Center for Banana. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://bircb.unud.ac.id/en/about-us/background/

Created by : Hubert Fernaldy

Hubert is an Industrial Product Design graduate from Institut Teknologi Nasional. He did his IISMA exchange at Hochschule Hannover, Germany, where he spent his time immersed in the German design approach and attitude.

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