The Materioteca (materials library) is where research and sharing take shape within the practice. Materials are carriers of contents that can be deciphered from their physical/tangible characteristics and their use over time. Continuous perceptual contact with materials leads to new stimuli and triggers reflections on design potential, thus becoming a creative prompt for present and future projects.
At Park Associati, research on and knowledge of materials enable a project to make a qualitative leap. Organising this knowledge in a systematic and accessible way represents the challenge. We decided to organise the Materioteca applying precise guidelines. In line with the firm's resolution to be paper free, paper catalogues have been replaced by a digital database, thus freeing physical space to archive material samples by type.
Sharing knowledge is one of the practice's strengths, a philosophy that is also embraced by its Materioteca. We introduced a rigorous, user-friendly cataloguing system, by applying a QR Code directly to each sample. Scanning the QR code with a mobile phone allows access to a cloud where cards collecting key information on each material are stored. Flexible and immediate, this procedure does not require the sample to be moved, thus making it always available to everyone. Pamphlets notify the team of any new items , which are displayed in dedicated spaces around the office, and select the products that are most relevant in terms of project development. The materials library consists of two sections: ARCHITECTURE and INTERIOR DESIGN. The persons in charge of each section deal with relations with external suppliers and the cataloguing of materials.
The search for new materials is increasingly aimed at local and sustainable products. Particular attention is paid to the carbon footprint of materials, i.e. the amount of emissions produced during their manufacturing and laying processes, for a circular economy approach to the project. Façade solutions and materials that allow us to study new proposals are one of our focal points. Architectural research is progressively shifting the focus from a fully glazed curtain wall to increasingly opaque portions. Rediscovering some materials of our tradition (such as terracotta and ceramic) and bringing them back with a contemporary twist represents a challenge. While being intertwined with the work teams’ requirements, the search for new materials partly progresses independently; this leaves time to discover new solutions that increasingly offer an opportunity for inspiration and integration within the projects.
The linear metres that comprise the materials library lead to the room that has become our materials hub, where product, materials and technologies come together in the most varied fields of application. Custom-made bookcases and materials grouped by type – ceramics, woods, metals, textiles, wallpapers, handles, bathroom and kitchen furnishings, false ceilings and lights –, as well as natural composite materials: experimentation on materials by young companies offering research and sustainability as their added value. A display unit dedicated to novelties and a library that becomes an incubator of materials for projects in progress: a space where each team can keep their chosen materials from the beginning to the end of the design process. When the project is finished, the material board is archived to make room for the next project. The materials library becomes our project laboratory: in the peace of that room we take the time to turn thought into work and to add beauty to sturdiness and usefulness.