As I scrutinized and stroked the swatches of Ekobe, Green Cell Foam, and Kirei wood on the wall, I knew I was living out the designer's dream -- to indulge in an entire gallery of materials at my fingertips' disposal. Seen at the Better x Design conference in Providence, Rhode Island, this innovative gallery comes in the form of a Materials Petting Zoo, a brainchild of Ecolect, the world's largest database of sustainable materials.
Ecolect was born in 2005 when RISD industrial design graduates Matt Grigsby and Joe Gebbia wanted to address the difficulty of sourcing and obtaining sustainable materials. To help architects and designers solve this problem, they are connecting designers to material suppliers, as well as providing consulting on the triple-bottom-line implications of 'the most visceral aspect of design.' While I was in Providence, I had the opportunity to speak with Matt Grigsby, CEO and co-founder (and who also authors the Materials Monday blog on Treehugger!):