We all know that materials are a key topic in design. Yet it is now emerging as the preferred topic. Something that seems more than justified. Materials have long since ceased to be regarded as just that, but rather as tools that play a decisive role in an object's design and appearance. Designers have long been aware of materials' potential versatility and take advantage of these qualities in the design and deliberate construction of their objects.

One particularly interesting field of material research in terms of product design is the change in a material's properties, for example, when particles that feature specific functions are added. Modifying a material's characteristics makes it suitable for use in totally different product segments or in completely new manufacturing and shaping procedures.

Paper is the material to be the focal point of the special exhibition designed for The Design Annual by Materialworks and Nicola Stattmann. This material, which is as simple as it is fascinating, opens up a whole range of qualitative characteristics and uses. It is employed in such disparate contexts as architecture, design, graphics, fashion, packaging and interiors as a matter of course. Paper is cost-effective, light, ecological, aesthetic, flexible and static, and available in large quantities. More recently, thanks to new developments, paper has even emerged as a high-tech material that can be processed, combined and produced quite differently. What will happen, for example, if paper has photovoltaic features, and is lasered or turns into ceramic in a furnace? The Design Annual will be construction a form of paper laboratory, in which experiments can be conducted on the tradition behind and future of paper as a material.