Material Matters: Designers Talk

What are the newest, game-changing sustainable materials and how will they innovate design?

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


June 15, 2014 from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


$10, free with student ID

The objects we buy and use are made of a range of naturally occurring and manufactured materials. But in the last decade, there has been increased demand for and intensive research into finding ecologically sound alternatives.

On June 14, during San Francisco Design Week, 10 young industrial designers spend a full day in our design lab working with one of the most innovative new materials, FluidSolids, developed in Switzerland. Made entirely of industrial by-products and fully biodegradable, it offers flexibility in production and application, and replaces the need for metal or plastic.

Join us after the workshop to see what the Design Lab participants created as the jury announces a winner. And participate in the panel discussion and audience Q&A on the future of design using new, sustainable materials.


6:30 pm    doors open
7:00 pm    jury announcement and panel discussion
8:00 pm    networking reception
9:00 pm    doors close


Fabienne Barras

Fabienne Barras is project leader at the Swiss Design Prizeand is responsible for the biennale competition and exhibition. In parallel, she runs Sapic, a studio for spatial design, storytelling, and scenography. Previously, she worked on several exhibitions as well as corporate, public, culture, and arts events for Bellprat Associates, Habegger AG, Worldspan International, and X-Tra production. She studied Media Design at the F+F School of Art and Media Design.


John Hamilton

John Hamilton is currently the Director of Design at Coalesse, the premium brand of global furnishings that specializes in differentiated work experiences. Here, he is responsible for product development direction, showroom design and implementation, and surface material strategy. He is managing a multi-disciplinary studio of 10 in San Francisco that designs and directs the new product development with a team of researchers, interior architects, and product designers. John also has recent experience as the Global Design Director at Steelcase Asia Pacific, a global leader in office furniture and design.


Beat Karrer

Beat Karrer founded FluidSolids in 2012, and was nominated for the Swiss Design Prize for innovation in new materials in 2013. FluidSolids develops biobased materials and technologies and has has been outsourced as an independent company from his design firm Studio Beat Karrer. Since 1993 the Zurich-based designer and his team develop new products for renowned clientele including Boffi, DuPont Corian World, OFFECT Röthlisberger and toosB
The studio Karrer has won several international prizes for his designs, which often are unusual in their approach yet very functional and practical in their daily application. He is also an active visiting teacher, participates in juries and leads workshops, for example for the Vitra Design Museum. Karrer’s ideas have appeared in many publications and various books.


 Thomas Overthun

 Thomas Overthun is an associate partner and the design director at IDEO in San Francisco, and has been working for the company since 1993. Prior to IDEO, Overthun was part of the internal design team of the Dutch electronics company Philips and has since gone on to develop a strong expertise in the areas of contract furniture and ergonomic seating, office and consumer electronics, kitchen tools and appliances, and personal care and sports products. His client list includes Audible, Balanced Body, Brooks England, Cisco, Eastman, Fizik, Microsoft, National Panasonic, Proctor & Gamble, and Steelcase.


Collin Owen

 Collin Owen was raised in the deep south on a steady diet of trails, mischief, and tinkering. He was made (mostly) civil at Rice University (B.A. in Arch, B. of Arch.) and Art Center College of Design (M.S.I.D.). With a few others, he foundedSparse, an urban cycling focused manufacturer of bicycle parts and accessories. Prior to Sparse, he served a diverse set of clients including Wireless Generation, Nokia, NASA, Nike, Intel, Biodesign, and Terrazign. He is an Assistant Professor at CCA in San Francisco.


Lukas Scherrer (Moderator)

After graduating from the University of Art and Design Zurich, Lukas Scherrer moved to San Francisco. At IDEO, he demonstrated his creative capacity by designing complex medical devices for Medtronic, consumer electronics for Western Digital, LG, and Samsung, and furniture for Steelcase. He has won international design awards such as the IDSA/IDEA, IF, Spark, and Best of Neocon. In 2004, he co-founded mimijumi and in 2010 SHIBULERU Design. Scherrer sits on the nominating committee of the Swiss Design Prize and on the Jury of the prestigious IDSA/IDEA awards. He teaches design at universities in Switzerland and is Co-Chair of the San Francisco Zürich Sister City Committee.


*This event is part of Cultivating our Future, a month-long program in June 2014 during which swissnex San Francisco investigates our relationship to plants and imagines a green and healthy future for cities and the planet. Events tackle the theme through the lenses of community, research, art, and design.



Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos