About the GSD Materials Collection

The Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s Materials Collection emerged in 2004 as a manifestation of the School’s evolving engagement in materials. It is a collection of material samples ranging from innovative new materials to those found in the everyday built environment. The collection is one for designers, different than those for material scientists, yet it is not a typical material sample library found at a design firm that is organized by project use or application. The Materials Collection places emphasis on material composition and functional traits of the material samples, encouraging users to rethink conventional applications and promote material experimentation in design practice. These leading concepts are realized in the physical arrangement of the collection and data entry points of the online catalog.

The GSD Materials Collection is a collection of objects which visitors are encouraged to handle and study. Housed in the Frances Loeb Library's Special Collections, a space that functions as a teaching and display venue for ongoing research and course work. The Materials Collection has been developed according to faculty and student research agendas, and has been focused in these areas:

Material Ecology
Materials that demonstrate the externalities and impacts of material production and use both within and outside of designed installation.

Fabrication Materials
Materials that can be used in the GSD Fabrication Lab, as well as alternatives to those currently in use.

Bio-based Materials
Materials derived from plant and animal based renewable resources and surplus stocks.

Recycled Materials
Materials made from recycled material stocks including polymers, metals, and ceramics.

Urban Scale Materials
Materials implemented and affecting climatic, aesthetic, and hydrological conditions at an urban scale – particularly ones contributing to or mediating urban heat, such as roofing, surfacing, infrastructural.

Materials in Use
Materials used in contemporary design projects.