Broader Thinking About Materials

Return to the Mixing Materials Information page to see all resources

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Everyday products that mix materials

Mixed material products copy

Many products are created using a combination of different materials. Each material is chosen for its properties and the way it enables the product to carry out its intended purpose. 

  • What products can you see around you that use a combination of materials?
  • What are the properties of each material that make it suitable for how it has been used in the product?

Use these activities to test your learning. Click on the images to download the handout.

Mixed materials

Click on the image to see a larger version & to download the handout 

Apple Watch L

Click on the image to see a larger version & to download the handout 

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Same but different

We often classify materials into specific categories e.g. wood, metals, polymers, paper and board or textiles. However, many materials that are classified under different headings actually have the same sources but the processed materials look and feel very different and have different uses e.g. nylon existing as a polymer and a textile, wood used as a material in its own right as well as being processed to create regenerated textile fibres. 

What other examples of ‘same but different’ materials can you think of?

Use this activity to test your learning. Click on the image to download the handout.

Same but different L

Click on the image to see a larger version & to download the handout 

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Other Links

  • Look at the work of Ulla-Stina Wikander, a designer who covers everyday objects such as tables, phones and kitchen appliances with embroidery.
  • Bags created by Italian designers, Chiara Rivituso and Matteo Bastani from waste materials such as cereal packaging, packaging materials and Ikea bags.
  • G-Star Raw is best known as a brand for its luxury denim fashion garments but they also have a series of ‘crossover’ products, from furniture to a camera, a bike, and a Land Rover Defender. The company describe their crossover projects as allowing their design teams to be playful with the design values, materials and aesthetics of the denim industry within the context of other objects. In particular they feel this encourages their designers to look outside the world of fashion and take inspiration from other worlds, which ultimately feeds back into design and innovation within the garments they produce. The companies they produce crossover products with are chosen for their shared values including functionality, innovation, craftsmanship, quality and attention to detail. Head of 3D Design, Pieter Kool, says: ‘the principle of cross-pollination, especially between people from different crafts and backgrounds, is what we're looking for. A product engineer and a knitwear designer discussing a project will, for sure, come up with ideas that push the boundaries of what we've been doing, because of this multi-disciplinary approach.’ Read an interview with Pieter KoolSee the crossover products which include:
    • Prouvé Raw: Office – furniture collection inspired by Jean Prouvé
    • Raw Leica – camera remodelled to integrate key G-Star Raw features
    • Raw Defender – a Land Rover Defender kitted out to G-Star Raw’s specification including a specially formulated colour and serial number coding linked to the companies production code for denim. 
    • Raw Ferry – refurbishment of a canal boat to create a functional, luxurious cruiser
    • Raw Cannondale – a collaboration with the American bike manufacturer
    • Raw Flask – customised packaging  for Hennessy cognac.
  • Find out about different materials used when making a car tyre
  • Susie MacMurray is a British artist who creates sculptures and installations that are often linked to the history of the site they are displayed in. Some of her work is based on garments where she uses a range of materials, from textiles to metals and other materials, to create a sculpture of a garment, some of which are wearable. 

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Are you are a D&T teacher? Take a look at our ‘Train Your Team’ resource on broader thinking in materials. This includes a pre-prepared CPD presentation, classroom resources and material samples.

Broader materials Boyd Education

Visit our Boyd Create shop website to see a resource with a #ThinkDoMAKE focused practical task activity using metal, polymers and textiles to make a safety armband. This resource includes learning resources linked to the outcome and is most suitable for teachers or others looking for learning resources and activities related to D&T or STEM.

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Return to the Mixing Materials page to see all resources

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