There are thousands of types of materials to make things from. The first impulse for most of us is to use known materials like wood, steel, concrete, and glass. But each of those have hundreds of varieties, each with their own properties. How about metallic ceramics? And every year brand new materials are invented. How can one find out what materials are available?
One way to become familiar with the vast possibilities of materials is to visit a materials library. That’s what professional designers and architectures do when embarking on a project. Maybe what they design can be made of some kind of glass? Or super strong plastic? Or bendable wood? Larger design firms have their own material collection, which they use for inspiration, research and for sharing with clients. Below is an unusually large material library at the New York City architecture firm 1100: Architect. Smaller ones can be found at most design firms.