Behind every classic of design lies some innovation in materials or fabrication. So what materials will tomorrow's brilliant new products be made from? Material Connexion, a materials library for designers, has just unveiled its inaugural MEDIUM awards, for the best materials of the year. The grand-prize winner and the 11 honorable mentions will then be shown in January at the Material Connexion showroom in New York. Here's an exclusive sneak peek of a few of those mind-bending innovations.
Above: Abtech Industries's Smart Sponge, which took an honorable mention. The material absorbs oil but not water--thus potentially solving the once intractable problem of oil-spill cleanup.