"We are all sensitive to the meanings of materials, whether consciously or subconsciously. And since everything is made from something, these meanings pervade our minds. We are being bombarded with them constantly by our environment. Whether we are in a farm or a city, in a train or a plane, in a library or a shopping mall, they affect us. Of course, designers and architects consciously use these meanings to create clothes, products, and buildings that we like, that we identify with, that we want to surround ourselves with. In this way the meanings of materials are reinforced by our collective behavior and so take on a collective meaning. People buy clothes that reflect the type of person they want to be, or aspire to be, or are forced to be — fashion designers are expert in these meanings. But in every aspect of our lives we choose materials that reflect our values, in our bathrooms, in our living rooms, in our bedrooms. Similarly, others impose their values on us in the workplace, in our cities, and in our airports. There is a continual reflection, absorption, and expression going on in the material world that constantly remaps the meanings of materials around us.

"This mapping, though, is not a one-way street. The desire for, say, stronger, more comfortable, waterproof, breathable fabrics creates a need for the understanding of the internal material architectures that are required to create them. This drives our scientific understanding, and so drives materials science. In a very real way, then, materials are a reflection of who we are, a multi-scale expression of our human needs and desires."