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Appealing to a broader Spectrum

This year's Spectrum celebrated the best of international design, while Future Systems' AJ lecture accused the construction industry of conservatism. Isabel Allen reports

Spectrum, the interior products fair, stepped up its architectural content this year. In addition to the well-established Architectural Review Awards for Product Excellence, Future Systems delivered The Architects' Journal/Spectrum lecture - the first in what is to be an annual event. After showing projects including the Media Centre at Lord's cricket ground and Birmingham Selfridges, Jan Kaplicky criticized the conservative nature of the construction industry, describing architecture as 'the only profession which goes backwards. . . if this happened in the medical profession people would be dying in their hundreds'.

It is not surprising, then, that both Kaplicky and Future Systems partner Amanda Levete were particularly interested in the Material ConneXion stand, a showcase of the most innovative materials available, or soon to be available, on the market. Material Connexion describes itself as 'the world's only global resource exchange for architecture, manufacturing and design'.

Its founder, George Beylerian, has spent the past four years tracking down innovative materials, some of which are at premanufacture stage. The finds are assessed by an expert jury which includes scientists and designers and, if successful, join the Material ConneXion archive. The membership, which includes fashion designers, perfumiers, engineers and architects, can examine the library of some 1,500 samples, either at the New York headquarters or on the web. Beylerian is currently looking for a partner to launch Material ConneXion to the UK. To find out more visit the website at

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