A conference exploring the concept of the Web as a material

Reykjavík, Iceland

Material 2016 Kickstarter video

20+ years of the Web and we are still at the very beginning of understanding and implementing digitization.

For the first time we are facing a generation that never got to know the offline world. By nature they are riding the wave without ever having touched the ground.

We might have unlearned our ancestors' knowledge about materials and crafts, it's easy to overlook the intrinsic characteristics of the Web in favour of the newest framework or boilerplate.

Let's re-explore the material Web and evaluate what we have learned so far. Join us in Reykjavik, Iceland for a trip through history, views and cultures.

For centuries we've worked with wood, metal, glass, ceramic, paper, textiles. More recently, new materials have emerged; plastics, fiberglass, silicon, and more. We understand their limitations, their affordances. We can fold, heat, manipulate and warp some of these materials. But the Internet and the Web are still very new to us. We don't fully understand them as a material.

What does this mean for the Web? What are the properties of the Web as a Material?

We have lost the Apprentice/Master relationship in the digital world. Spending years getting our hands dirty with an expert, learning slowly and really understanding the material rather than the framework. We need to be asking ourselves what sacrifices should we be making for the convenience of our customers rather than shortcuts for ourselves.

What properties of materialness exists in the Web is what this conference is meant to explore.


The conference will be a day long mix of presentations and fun little side-shows from both international and local speakers.

Portrait of Amber Wilson
Amber Wilson

Amber Wilson is a budding designer continually getting excited about everything to do with the Web. With her background pursuing a Master's degree in Child Psychology, she'll bring a unique perspective on both where we've come from and where we'll go.

Her appreciation and love of both design and science from a really young age will shine through as she tells us about the finer points of what the Web is made of!

Photo of Hannah & Justin Floyd and their dog
Hannah & Justin Floyd

Hannah and Justin Floyd had an idea. What if they could find a new way of working with wool and so perhaps bring something back to their small market town, a once thriving part of the woollen industry?

They learnt that the coarse wool from hill-farmed, upland sheep had dramatically lost its value in recent years. So they started to play. To turn the way wool is worked on it's head. The end result is Solidwool — a strong, beautiful and unique composite material. Think fibreglass, but with wool.

They know better than anyone else, literally down to the micron scale about wool. That deep understanding is what we're going to talk about in relation to knowing your material and its affordances.

Portrait of Tommy Stadlen
Tommy Stadlen

Tommy Stadlen is the co-creator of Polaroid Swing, a Silicon Valley startup writing the next chapter in Polaroid's iconic history alongside Twitter founder Biz Stone. Swing's vision is to reimagine the photograph.

Tommy is going to enlighten us about some of the challenges that Polaroid and other companies are facing. He's going to look at Polaroid's history and the intersection of art and science, the importance of tangibility and will explore the resurgence of physicality and nostalgia. Why are we all so interested in vinyl records to film photography?

We now have the power to capture and explore how memories move, how does that impact the way we think about or digital lives?

Portrait of Tristan Ferne
Tristan Ferne

Tristan Ferne is the lead producer at BBC Research & Development where he uses technology and design to prototype the future of media and the Web.

He'll be exploring more about stories, their form, structure, beginnings, middles, endings, people, places, things, setbacks, climaxes and conflict. The Web also has form and structure, pages, links, javascript, audio, video, text, control, personalisation and adaptation.

When we take stories onto the Web we can do things that haven't been possible before. Giving you control over how much detail you get in the news, adapt a podcast to fit your commuting time, present fiction in different forms and across different media.

Through a series of examples from the BBC and elsewhere he'll look at some experiments with storytelling on the Web and explore some of the future directions we could take.

The Nordic House

Norræna húsið — the Nordic House
The Nordic House by acclaimed Finnish modernist architect Alvar Aalto

The conference will be held on August 17th at Norræna húsið, the Nordic House. Built in 1968 by acclaimed Finnish modernist architect Alvar Aalto, located in the center of Reykjavík, it is a short walking distance from various hotels and guesthouses.

The house maintains a library and focuses on Nordic Region information services. In addition, there is a shop for Nordic design and food products, exhibition space and auditoriums. The house also features an acclaimed restaurant serving New Nordic food — this is where we plan to have lunch together.

Rather than using a full-service hotel or conference center, we are trying a smaller, cozier and definitely more memorable location.


This is a very small conference, only around 60 attendees. Tickets are available now for $159 (~€150 EUR, £130 GBP).

Tickets are limited. Only $159. Get yours today!

Sitting around the fire
Join us for some stimulating conversation

Travel and accomodation

We started putting together a Foursquare list with lots of recommendations in downtown Reykjavík, including lodging opportunities. There are also plenty of nice AirBnbs around town, so please check them out as well.

We know that travelling to Iceland for a conference might sound like an adventure — and it is! — if you need any help or suggestions, just let us know while we'll keep reaching out to hotels and potential sponsors to get some good deals for you.

Visiting Iceland Slack Team

To help you planning your stay in Iceland, we've set up the Visiting Iceland Slack Team where you can meet other attendees, exchange experiences and team up with others to find shared Airbnbs, hotel rooms and similar. To request an invite to this Slack team please enter your email address below:

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