The Future Materials Bank attempts to deepen the understanding of the (material) language we use. The Lexicon is a list of definitions retrieved from various dictionaries and complemented with our own findings. This page is a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and additions.

Animal material

Material derived from animals.


Opposed to natural; the product of intentional human manufacture, rather than occurring naturally through processes not involving or requiring human activity. Often as a copy of something natural.


A non static place where materials are being stored, exchanged and archived in a digital as well as physical database that can be searched.


Connected with life and living things.


Based on biological materials or processes, made from substances derived from living organisms (or once-living) -in contrast to fossil fuels or petroleum-based products.


Able to decay and decompose naturally by living organisms and thereby avoiding pollution.


Connected with the natural processes of living (micro) organisms.


A substance that is based on naturally produced raw materials by living organisms.


Plastic made from biological substances rather than petroleum (such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, straw, woodchips, sawdust or recycled food waste). Not all bioplastics are biodegradable.

Bodily material

Material derived from the human body.


Any basic substance that is used in or produced by a reaction involving changes to atoms or molecules.


A closed-loop system based on the principles of minimising the use of resource inputs, the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions. Via reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling its the aim to create a closed material loop.


The tag ‘Cleaning’ in the context of the Future Materials Bank applies to our inclusion of cleaning-materials that are commonly used in an artistic practice, for instance for (paint) brushes or tools. A lot of common cleaning materials for artists are chemical (such as turpentine) hence for our Future Materials Bank we are always on the look-out for environmentally-friendly alternatives.


A material that consists of a mixture of several different substances.


Able to last and be used for a long time without becoming damaged.


Eco-friendly, Ecological

Not harmful to the natural environment.


Aiming or designed to promote the protection of the natural world and therefore not having any negative impact on the natural world.

Fair trade

A way of buying and selling products that ensures people who produce the goods receive a fair price.


A thread or filament (from animal, plant or artificial material) that can be used for making products such as cloth and rope.


The impact on the environment of human activity in terms of pollution, damage to the ecosystems, and the depletion of natural resources.

Future materials

Materials that inspire, promote and support the transition towards a more sustainable artistic practice. The selected materials are ‘futureproof’ and contribute to how we ideally envision the usage of artist materials.


An adhesive substance used for sticking objects or materials together, produced from animal bones and skins or by a chemical process.


Concerned with or supporting protection of the environment as a political principle.


Disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image or an attempt to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.


A substance from which a thing is or can be made.

Nano material

A material having particles or constituents of nano-scale dimensions, or one that is produced by nanotechnology.


As found in nature and not made or caused by humankind.


No use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals in the growing process of plants and animals for food consumption or other products.


Entirely or mainly made of plants.


A synthetic material made from a wide range of polymers such as polyethylene, PVC or nylon that can be shaped or moulded when soft into many different forms and can have many different uses.


A substance which has a molecular structure built up chiefly or completely from a large number of similar units bonded together, e.g. many synthetic or organic materials used as plastics and resins.


Convert waste into a new material that can be used again for the same or a different purpose.


A solid or liquid synthetic or organic polymer used as the basis of plastics, adhesives, varnished, or other products. Resin is insoluble in water, exuded by some trees and other plants (notable fir and pine).

Smart material

Various artificial materials designed to respond in a particular way when exposed to some external environmental stimulus, such as heat.


Causing no damage to the natural environment, no depletion of natural resources and therefore conserving an ecological balance on the long run.


A flexible material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres (yarn or thread) used as a type of cloth or woven fabric.


Using or containing no animal products.