By Adam Drazin, Susanne Küchler
The Social lifetime of Materials
Studies in fabrics and Society
Editor(s): Adam Drazin, Susanne Küchler
Media of The Social lifetime of Materials
Edition: 1st, 2015
Imprint: Bloomsbury educational (UK)
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Additional resources for The Social Life of Materials. Studies in Materials and Society
Materials libraries can be more about knowledge paradigms than about getting to know materials. In this sense, they are about ways of getting to know the world through materials, which necessitate getting to know the world as materials. One expectation people have in visiting libraries is that they will acquire knowledge: knowledge of specific, discrete kinds of materials, easily-identifiable, separable, fungible materials, which have definable and measurable properties which can be learned about.
The materials invite physical engagement. Photo by Adam Drazin. Hence different materials libraries present different things as ‘materials’. The fact of the existence of this thing called a ‘materials library‘ is itself a defining framework for what lies within. ’ I suggest that the growth of these types of collections globally – London is only one place in the world where this phenomena is developing – is indicative of a widespread shift in the ways that professional cultures are perceiving and relating to material culture.
At the time of writing there are a growing number of materials libraries in London, in the United Kingdom and in the world. Miodownik (this volume) details many. They do not all have Zoe Laughlin’s philosophy, but they are all vehicles for thinking about materials: what materials are, why they are important and how we come to know them. Each has its own philosophy in other words. In the London area, institutions that incorporate what might be termed a materials library, and which I visited in 2011–2014, include the Institute of Making, the sustainable materials library at Kingston University, the design materials library at Central St Martins and the economic botany collection at Kew Gardens.