Design Chain @ K 2016 :: Blogs
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Doreen Becker, Aschulman

•         You’re speaking at Design Chain @ K 2016 Conference, what made you decide to get involved?
I am very excited about Design Chain because I see it as a positive disruption to the very technical and traditional thinking that is an essential part of the fabric of the K-Fair in Dusseldorf.    Design Chain recognizes the necessity for collaboration between creative and technical colleagues to create innovative and unique products that are needed to compete in today’s competitive and rapidly evolving global landscape.
•         What interested you in getting involved with materials and/or designing?
I started my career as an analytical chemist for a color pigment company.  After several years, I was promoted to managing our company’s plastics application laboratory where I learned how beautiful our colors became when extruded or molded into plastic.  I was also  part of our company’s development team to create new colors and was assigned the task of choosing new colors for manufacturing.  I started researching about color trends and decided to return to school to study creative design at Parsons School of Design/New School University in New York City where I received a Masters in Fine Arts (MFA).  In June 2016,  Elsevier published my first book; “Color Trends & Selection for Product Design: Every Color Sells A Story”
•         Is there a designer, company or product you particularly admire and why?
Michelle Greene (  who was my welding professor at Parsons, taught me the importance of discipline in design; where it is essential to pay careful attention to  the entire process of design from inspiration to sketching and model making, marerial selection all the way to the final finishing of a project.  Mies van de Rohe once said that “God is in the details” and this is the essential nature of Michelle Greene’s work.  She is also an exquisite furniture designer and sculptor.  Also her minimal use of color celebrates her sensual and fluid designs that embrace modern industrial design paired with traditional repurposed materials that add layered nuances to her art.
•         Looking into the crystal ball, what big changes do you expect to see in materials and designing by 2030?
I see two big changes. The first is in hybrid designs that will utilize both natural and synthetic materials in the same product.  Currently, we saw plastic components or products replacing metal or glass products to reduce cost or weight but in the future we will see these products combined to enhance the beauty and functionality of finished goods.  In the realm of plastics, I see a shift in design attitude where polymers are not regarded as too cheap or too technical to be used as good design materials but rather through better education of designers and engineers we will see an expanded use of sophisticated, high performance materials for smarter, greener designs.  The other change is more immediate.  Consumers are currently experiencing chroma-fatigue with the over-use of LED and high-intensity lighting and many designs/adverts are using too many bright colors that are tiring and contribute to visual pollution.  Consumers are craving a more normalized/less frantic use of light and color so new pallets are emerging that are more neutral and sophisticated.
•         Can plastics companies and designers learn from each other?
It is essential that plastics and design companies learn from each other.  They need to develop and learn a new mutual language so that they can communicate on new projects quickly and efficiently and resist using their usual design-speak/techno-speak that their counterparts do not fully understand.  This contributes to the gap that exists between designers and engineers and creates costly project delays as well as poor mediocre products.  The bigger question is how can they do this.  Currently, designers and engineers operate in two different worlds; usually in different companies but sometimes even for the same company but these collaborations need to be closer where there is mutual respect for both sides and involvement from both sides throughout the project.  Frequently design professionals are brought into the beginning or end of the project rather than involved  throughout the entire process.  Like any good relationship, it is important to keep both sides engaged from the start to the finish of the project.  Another solution is to educate designers about materials and their properties while in design schools as well as educating young engineers and chemists about design in their university programs.  I am also writing a new book about this collaboration between designers and engineers and how to bridge that gap.  This Design Chain Conference is also an excellent opportunity for the technical community to learn more about these collaborations!


Hilke Schaer, BMW.

1.    You’re speaking at Design Chain @ K 2016 Conference, what made you decide to get involved?

Me myself, I find my own job relevant and exciting, and I see the framing at the K fair as a perfect sounding board to link the partnering fractions. I feel a mission to improve the cooperation of design and technology on the field of materials. And as I know that to be the overall mission of Chris Lefteri, too, my involvement might give me the chance to give some kicks and inspirations to the people who will join and to get valuable input back from them in the linked discussions.

2.    What interested you in getting involved with materials and/or designing?

Educated as textile designer I was trained from the beginning about the importance of using technologies for reaching aesthetical effects. To explore these potentials in no matter which raw material is what has driven me since a long time ago. More and more over the years is has become my mission not only to design the materials surface but to mate material with functional use and an attractive yet authentic appearance.

3.    Is there a designer, company or product you particularly admire and why?

I am a fan of products which make distinctive use of materials properties  and processing technologies in order to bring them to a profound functionality. The crowning of this is character… humour… simplicity..personal comfort.
Just to name one sample under others the new Camper shoe collection in my opinion is worth considering as it joins fun with innovation and clever combination of materials.

4.    Looking into the crystal ball, what big changes do you expect to see in materials and designing by 2030?

If we will still be living in 2030 we must have made a resounding shift by then concerning raw materials and production processes towards a true sustainability. I expect a consequent merge of function, form and material itself, in a digital and analogue way  – advanced technologies which lead to complete flexibility, strong reduction of parts and enhancement of the human factor.

5.    Can plastics companies and designers learn from each other?

For sure they can, plastics companies are users and drivers of interesting and efficient processes, which involve massive potentials for those merging elements. Thus they can create lots of inspiration and in the same time support for designers – whose role I see as the cross-thinkers and the fighters for humans/customers needs and desires.


Eric Muller, Futation

.  You’re speaking, Erik, at Design Chain @ K2016 Conference; what made you decide to get involved?
I’m a big fan of the K Trade Fair in general. It is a great trade show, where you quickly get a lot of knowledge about plastics, as well as meeting new contacts within the industry. Visiting the fair also helps me stay up to date with the newest developments in materials and solutions. I can easily spend three full days roaming the halls talking to experts within every segment of the plastics industry.
For a material nerd and product developer like me it is ideal to combine the visit at the K Fair with the input and inspiration I get from the Design Chain @ K Conference.
 2. What interested you in getting involved with materials and/or designing?

I get many ideas for potential products, solutions, and businesses by seeing materials with unusual functional properties. I also find it very interesting that most advanced products owe their functionality to the materials used. I have the feeling that material science is often underappreciated despite the value it adds to the product development process and the resulting products. Material science should be a key knowledge area for any designer.  
3. Is there a designer, company, or product you particularly admire and why?
Recently, I have been impressed by the Brazilian company Braskem and their development of bio-based polyethylene. Polyethylene is the most widely used plastic material; the access to bio-based polyethylene makes it a lot easier to lower the carbon footprint for large volumes of packaging and consumer products. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this area develops in the coming years.  

4. Looking into the crystal ball, what big changes do you expect to see in materials and designing by 2030?
I believe we will see a lot of development within “green chemistry” where the basic building blocks (monomers) of polymers are created from bio-based materials instead of fossil fuels. The plastics you get from these green monomers are practically identical to the fossil-based plastics – so it’s possible to replace the fossil-based plastics directly.

By 2030 I believe we’ll have regulatory initiatives set up to drive up the cost of raw materials to reduce consumption and support the economics of recycling. Today we have a fee on each plastic bag sold in supermarkets in many European countries and this fee has greatly reduced consumption and increased re-use of plastic bags. I believe we will see similar schemes for many other materials and products in the future, and manufacturers and product developers will benefit from preparing for this development well in advance.
5. Can plastics companies and designers learn from each other?
Yes, there are many interesting materials and processes in the plastics industry that are not widely known and used by designers. I see a great potential in using some of these in new applications and in different industries. The other day I got hold of some “electroactive ferroelectret film”, which is a thin electrically charged polypropylene that can be used to detect mechanical pressure. Inventive designers could easily come up with dozens of ideas for using such a material – as long as they’re aware of its existence.


Geert Jan Schellekens, Sabic

1.    You’re speaking at Design Chain @ K 2016 Conference, what made you decide to get involved?
At SABIC, we are proud to maintain a longstanding, precious and deep connection to the design community, which has resulted in many fruitful collaborations and innovative end products. We fully appreciate and truly believe in the creative synergy between inventive minds and enabling materials. This conference offers a unique platform to reinforce this relationship.

2.    What interested you in getting involved with materials and/or designing?
Materials ARE design. They are powerful ingredients in the larger design toolbox and offer the opportunity to create groundbreaking products. I love how designers can challenge material specialists with their visions – as much as I love to be in a position to provide material solutions to inventions that are yet to come. Both worlds inspire each other and that’s a powerful thing.

3.    Is there a designer, company or product you particularly admire and why?
The Volkswagen XL1 and all involved in its development – starting with visionary corporate leadership, moving forward thanks to artful collaboration and finishing with the result of an iconic object, which is not only truly beautiful, but also highly fuel efficient. Of course, we are proud to have been part of the team that contributed to the vehicle’s ultra-low weight and phenomenal aerodynamic performance with our light, optically clear and abrasion-resistant plastic glazing solution. They say great design is transparent and in this case, it certainly is.

4.    Looking into the crystal ball, what big changes do you expect to see in materials and designing by 2030?
2030 may sound like a distant future, but it is only 14 years down the road. It is around the corner. With immense pressure on the environment, the drive to improve energy efficiency and greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions will continue as a trend and challenge the industry. We- in the materials world- know that a mix of materials is needed to help address these challenges. Although plastics have been around for some time now, substantial development potential for polymer solutions remains. The opportunities are like an iceberg – most lie below the surface and we have yet to come to realization. Of course, the continuous development and improvement of additive manufacturing technologies holds great promise, as does the combination of composites and plastics – and other hybrid solutions.

5.    Can plastics companies and designers learn from each other?
They can – and they do. In fact, I believe that it is only through a true collaborative effort that we create maximum value together – in the form of a powerful end product that makes the best possible use of material properties. We at SABIC have always been strong advocates of working closely and cooperatively. This has come to life through the years in the collaborative programs we have run with leading design schools around the globe as well as the range of technology demonstration and concept cars that we co-developed with leading OEMs in the mid 2000s. Today, we continue this tradition in different ways. More than ever, we in industry depend on and learn from one another, and we experience this daily as we work on joint development programs with our customers.

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