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Material ConneXion is a materials consultancy that helps companies source advanced materials to enhance the performance, aesthetics and sustainability of their projects. The company is headquartered in New York City and was founded in 1997 by George M. Beylerian. Today, it is run by company president Michele Caniato, who also oversees Culture + Commerce, the world's premiere design consultancy agency. Material ConneXion and Culture + Commerce were acquired by SANDOW, a leader in building multi-platform brands that inform, inspire and engage highly coveted consumer and business audiences, in 2011.
In addition to its New York office, the company has locations in Bangkok, Beijing, Cologne, Daegu, Istanbul, Milan, Seoul, Skövde and Shanghai, and also maintains an online materials database. In May 2011, Material ConneXion announced that it would be opening 10 materials libraries throughout China by 2017. The company's first location in China opened in Beijing in 2011, followed by an office in Shanghai in January 2012.
At Material ConneXion's core is a physical library of innovative materials and processes containing over 7,000 examples. The company relies on an independent jury of design practitioners to help it determine whether a new material or process is worthy of inclusion. All of the materials in its collection are categorized based on their chemical composition: Polymers, Naturals, Metals, Glass, Process, Ceramics, Cement-based, Carbon-based.
Work and reception
Material ConneXion was named a “Top Eco-Innovator” by The New York Times in 2007, recognized for its efforts to make information on sustainable materials and sustainable design practices more readily available to designers and corporations. Material ConneXion's consulting work and Materials Library has led to the development and improvement of consumer products, architecture, packaging, interiors and numerous other design-related projects. The company's clients have included design and architecture firms, government agencies, and large corporations such as Adidas, Target Corporation, PUMA, and BMW.
In 2001, designer Sandy Chilewich discovered a woven vinyl material in Material ConneXion's library that led to her Chilewich brand of household products and accessories. The company also worked with designer Harry Allen to find a sustainable, low-cost, post-industrial polypropylene packaging material for Aveda’s award-winning Ukuru line of cosmetics. In 2004, Material ConneXion helped Nike source a monofilament sleeving normally used to protect PVC pipes from bursting for use in its Air Jordan XIX.
Through its recent partnership with McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) and the Environmental Protection and Encouragement Agency (EPEA), Material ConneXion is the only Materials Library in the world to feature Cradle to Cradle assessed and certified materials and the only materials consultancy to offer Cradle to Cradle Certification and Cradle to Cradle product development.
Material ConneXion’s vice president of materials research, Dr. Andrew H. Dent, recently[when?] wrote the bi-monthly ‘About Materials Innovation’ column for BusinessWeek and is a frequent speaker on topics related to sustainability and design.
Material ConneXion published its first book, Material ConneXion: The Global Resource of New and Innovative Materials for Architects, Artists and Designers in 2005, followed by its second, Ultra Materials: How Materials Innovation is Changing the World (Thames & Hudson) in 2007.
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