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The Art of Plastics Design
Conference 18th -19th October 2005, Berlin, Germany


Design and plastics

In all industries, in the very industrialized world, as in the developing world, design is an indispensable prerequisite. It is impossible to imagine a world without design, without packaging, without visual identity, a colorless, shapeless, odorless, flavorless world. Design is life itself, better than life itself because it introduces and enhances creativity, the added value of human imagination and art.

In times when such concepts as low cost, hard discount, are much valorized, it is somewhat reassuring that the concept of design, meaning beauty, harmony, clever functionality, is part of strategy and development in the plastics as well in other industries. Design is also one last stronghold for established brands, facing the impact of nameless products, coming from all over the world, that retail distributors market under their own brand names. In a world increasingly standard and regulated, design is to stay a sign of creativity, innovation, the best that imagination may give to industrial products...

Design has a strong meaning for plastics, as it is part not only of the finished products, but also ever researched and built-in in the materials themselves, in their processes, associating, and making into the finished products to which design brings innovations and developments, helping further inroads of plastics into all other materials. Plastics are becoming the universal material under our very eyes.

The relatively short history of plastics, less than a century, sixty years as a mass industry, is ever expanding into diversity, new materials, new associations of materials, new looks, new functions, new applications.

For the over 200 million tons of plastics now used in the world, the road has been long.  Yet, it went in the  short span of these sixty years, from the first black and white, or colorless, flimsy, substitution materials of questionable properties, to an almost limitless universe of polymers, blends, with higher performance properties, bright and sophisticated colors and finishes.

Most plastics, even some of the non visible applications, now require some particular finishing. Imagination, creativity, and the search for enhanced performances rule the design of old and new applications and sustain the continuing development of plastics.

In fact, increasingly, there hardly is any application of plastics that is not, more or less, designed for specific effects and functions. The ever changing and ever expanding range of plastics materials and applications rests on these old and new concepts of finishing, away from the raw state of the materials.

And yet, there is an interesting, and disturbing, fact, the public at large continues to think that plastics is one word, one material, as the general public is completely unaware of plastics extraordinary range.

Paper outline

Summary of plastics consumption and trends in 2005, world
Plastics applications not requiring any special effects or design, just plain
Overview of more elaborated applications
A few examples of what plastics design brings to new developments
Plastics future to be boosted by creativity and design


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