Material Matters launched as a podcast in 2019 with a simple idea. In each episode design writer and commentator, Grant Gibson, would talk to an artist, maker, designer or architect about their relationship with a particular material or technique and discover how it changed their lives and careers – a bit like a design version of Desert Island Discs.
So why materials? Well as writers such as Glenn Adamson and Professor Mark Miodownik have pointed out, if we understand materials, then we understand how the world works. And if we understand how the world works, then we have a better chance of averting the climate emergency the planet is currently hurtling towards.
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The first series of Material Matters with Grant Gibson, which included the likes of leather designer, Bill Amberg, and potter-cum-author, Edmund de Waal, hit the ground running, with The Observer’s Miranda Sawyer describing the show as containing ‘enlightening, informed interviews’. Since then, Grant has talked materials with the likes of: Tom Dixon, Barber Osgerby, MoMA curator Paola Antonelli, Yinka Ilori, felt artist Lucy Sparrow, and Piet Hein Eek to name just a few, while subject matter has ranged from clay and glass to human sweat and egg shells. In 2020, it won the Best Podcast prize at the Archiboo Awards.
As the podcast’s popularity grew globally, it made sense to turn it into a physical exhibition, something that William Knight is ideally qualified to do. William and Grant first met over 20 years ago when the former was at the Design Council, while the latter was editing the design title, Blueprint. They hit it off immediately. Subsequently, William went on to have a stellar career in the exhibitions industry, becoming deputy director of the London Design Festival and directing both 100% Design and Clerkenwell Design Week. In 2022, the pair decided to launch their own company, Delizia Media, and Material Matters is the first result of this new partnership.
The fair works with the podcast to bring to wider attention, the people, companies and organisations that will help shape the rest of the century. Ultimately, it is about increasing awareness of the importance of material intelligence – and the way we use our resources – to design a better, more sustainable, world.
Grant Gibson is one of the UK’s leading design, craft and architecture writers. His work has been published in The Observer, New Statesman, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, and House & Garden, to name just a few. Grant has been editor of Blueprint and Crafts, deputy editor of FX, and acting executive editor of the RIBA Journal. In 2019, he launched the critically acclaimed podcast series, Material Matters with Grant Gibson.
William Knight has worked at the centre of UK design promotion for over 20 years, starting at the Design Council, before becoming the deputy director of the London Design Festival. Subsequently, William led some of the UK’s largest commercial design exhibitions at Media 10 Ltd, directing both 100% Design and Clerkenwell Design Week. He spent two years as the director of Dubai Design Week.