Review MaterialDistrict Utrecht 2024

Exploring the Future of Materials

From March 6 – 8, MaterialDistrict Utrecht took centre stage at the atmospheric industrial Werkspoorkathedraal in Utrecht. This year’s event placed extra emphasis on biobased, circular, and regenerative materials, highlighting their importance in combating climate change and addressing the looming scarcity of resources. By fostering the creation of new value chains, the event aimed to propel forward the agricultural transition and construction sectors.

Hajo Reinders, from Pretty Plastic, succinctly captured the essence of the event, expressing, “I think there is only one place in the Netherlands where you can see all the new sustainable materials at a glance.” His sentiment was echoed by many, highlighting the comprehensive nature of the exhibition in presenting the latest innovations in sustainable material solutions for the built environment.

Attendees eager to explore the latest sustainable materials

With a remarkable 28% increase in attendance, over 5,651 professionals converged on Utrecht, eager to explore the latest sustainable materials and products. Against the backdrop of radiant spring weather, this year’s event marked a significant step forward in promoting sustainability within the design industry.

Among the attendees were interior architects and designers who found the experience of seeing and feeling the materials in real life truly enriching. Iris van Asselt, a sustainable interior designer, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “It’s cool to see and feel the materials in real life. I am overwhelmed by all the beautiful things that exist.” Jantien Broere, another sustainable interior designer, agreed. She found genuine happiness in witnessing the evolution of materials.

The event’s significance extended beyond mere inspiration. It was viewed as a crucial source of knowledge and access to emerging trends and possibilities. Broere emphasised the importance, stating, “It is so essential that people gain knowledge and access to this.” “I would recommend everyone to come here,” added Marcel van der Sluis, Director of Timmerfabriek Gebrs. Bos.

Exhibitors showcased a diverse array of sustainable and circular innovations

With over 150 exhibitors showcasing their innovations within the themes of Circular Economy, Wellbeing, and Energy Transition, MaterialDistrict Utrecht offered attendees the opportunity to connect with manufacturers and discover new materials for their projects. The event’s increased participation can be attributed to the MaterialDistrict Innovation Fund, which supports start-ups and designers in showcasing their innovations.

Exhibitors showcased a diverse array of sustainable and circular innovations, spanning from established companies to budding startups. The inclusion of 20 recently graduated designer, scouted by curator Leonne Cuppen, provided a fresh perspective, enriching the event with novel ideas and approaches. Innovations across material categories left attendees awe-inspired, from salmon leather and 3D printed recycled plastic to green roofing made of expanded cork and circular office furniture devoid of traditional adhesives or screws.

“What sets MaterialDistrict Utrecht apart is its ability to inspire.” Edwin van der Goes, founder of Donkersloot, a carpet supplier, emphasised the event’s role in fostering creativity and innovation. “Here, you see much more inspiration than at other fairs,” he remarked. For Donkersloot, sustainability has always been a priority, and MaterialDistrict Utrecht provided an ideal platform to showcase their “sexy sustainable carpets”.

Marjanne Cuypers, representing Blueblocks, praised the fair for its impact on the interior design field, affirming, “This is one of the most beautiful fairs for us in the interior design field.” Cuypers emphasised the tangible sense of satisfaction evident among attendees, remarking, “Look around you at what it looks like, it makes everyone happy.” Such positive ambiance undoubtedly contributes to fostering a conducive environment for networking and business development.


One of the highlights of the event was the palpable enthusiasm from both exhibitors and attendees. Bas Zonneveld, representing Ntgrate by LEOXX, praised the event for its welcoming ambiance and diverse audience. He remarked, “There is a nice atmosphere here, and it’s an interesting mix of people. We have a compelling story to tell in terms of sustainability, and it resonates well here.”

One of innovations was presented by Finsa, who showcased a biobased MDF with glue derived from tree resin. This novel approach not only addresses environmental concerns but also underscores the potential of utilising natural resources in manufacturing processes. Meanwhile, the event also spotlighted ingenious project solutions aimed at repurposing waste materials. Recycled fire hoses found new life in furniture and carpets courtesy of residual leather, demonstrating the transformative power of upcycling.

Aectual showed for the first time a biobased room divider made of 3D printed wood waste, biopolymer and cellulose that stores CO2.Interface’s ‘Past forward’ collection, celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary, seamlessly blended retro designs with contemporary aesthetics, while Nora by Interface showcased the 100% recyclable Noracare flooring products.

Curated material exhibition

Sustainability was the cornerstone of this year’s material exhibition, with a myriad of eco-friendly alternatives on display, ranging from bio-based materials to products crafted from upcycled resources. The curated material exhibition, featuring 250 material samples, provided a tangible experience of the latest trends in material innovation, particularly in sustainability. From textiles made from seaweed to acoustic felt from corn, attendees marvelled at the innovative solutions on display. Atto Harsta, an Innovation Advisor for the construction sector and architecture, was impressed by the array of new materials, remarking, “Impressive to see what new materials have been developed over the past year.”


In addition to the exhibitor presentations and materials exhibitions, there were two simultaneous theatre programmes in which a line-up of 60 speakers from different fields shared their knowledge and experience with the visitors. The lecture programme was made possible thanks to the collaboration with a number of leading organizations including: PEFC Netherlands, Biobased Creations, Fibershed, BNI, Biophilic Design Academy, and Matter Technologies.

In conclusion

The resounding success of MaterialDistrict Utrecht 2024 was palpable in the overwhelmingly positive feedback from both exhibitors and visitors; 75% of attendees deemed their visit to the event as important to very important, with 87% expressing their inclination to recommend the event to industry peers.

In conclusion, MaterialDistrict Utrecht 2024 emerged as not just a fair, but a catalyst for innovation and creativity in the realm of materials. It brought together professionals and enthusiasts alike, providing a platform to explore, learn, and connect. With its forward-thinking approach and diverse offerings, the event undoubtedly left a lasting impression on all who attended, paving the way for a future where materials play a central role in shaping and designing our future world. As exhibitors and attendees departed, they left with not only new contacts and ideas but also a renewed sense of purpose in their pursuit of a greener, more sustainable future.

Next years’ edition

Looking ahead, MaterialDistrict Utrecht remains steadfast in its mission to catalyse material innovation and foster meaningful connections between manufacturers and industry professionals. With plans already underway for next year’s event, scheduled for 12 to 14 March 2025, MaterialDistrict Utrecht is poised to further elevate the discourse surrounding sustainable material innovation.