The Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) Materials Collection is a collection of over 600 materials ranging from innovative, new materials to those found everyday in the constructed environment. The physical collection, organized into five material families—Biocomposite, Polymer, Metal, Mineral, and Ceramic—allows for tactile browsing, while a database provides multiple points of access to meet research needs. By foregrounding material composition and functional traits, the collection allows users to rethink conventional applications and promote material experimentation in design practice. Explorations in material research find expression through publications, exhibitions, colloquia, and course offerings that examine the research interests of the GSD.
In partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the GSD is working to develop a new profile for CollectionSpace designed to improve management of materials collections. The profile will include a new authority for managing materials information, and an innovative expansion of the CollectionSpace authority platform that will allow both collections to contribute to a shared materials authority. RISD and the GSD are also working toward the development of a consortium that will allow materials collections across the country to contribute to and benefit from their work.