ICS materials

Future Visions and Methodologies for Designing with and for Interactive, Connected and Smart Materials

In the last years, new classes of advanced materials are emerging, influenced by computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and hybridization of design with science, due to an increased technological development, miniaturization, and democratization. These are ICS Materials, an acronym that stands for Interactive, Connected, and Smart Materials. They include materials that are: (i) able to establish a two-way exchange of information with non-human and human entities; (ii) linked to another entity or to an external source, to transfer and receive information, not only through the internet and digital network; (iii) able to respond contextually and reversibly to external stimuli, by changing their properties and qualities; (iv) programmable, not only through software. They do that through electronic, chemical, mechanical, and biological means. Such materials are available in the form of experimental or underdeveloped materials and surfaces, composites, and functional components.

While research centers and companies around the world are experimenting with these new materials, there is the need to reflect on their definition and classification, identify constraints, potentials, and impact on design and industry, develop a methodology to design with and for them, and envision future scenarios. This project is a step in this direction. “ICS Materials” is a basic research project of Politecnico di Milano, Department of Design, aiming at exploring the intersection between design, new materials, and interaction.

Funded By

Politecnico di Milano, Department of Design (FARB fund)


Stefano Parisi


Venanzio Arquilla

Camilo Ayala Garcia

Arianna Bionda

Mauro Attilio Ceconello

Marinella Ferrara

Venere Ferraro

Andrea Ratti

Davide Spallazzo

Politecnico di Milano, Department of Design