Sustainability issues are increasingly taking more prominent positions in the hierarchy of design decisions. The combination of linked digital analysis and parametric design has emerged as an integrated method of assimilating performative characteristics into design. As these “informed design” methods evolve there is an increasing ability for architectural geometry to be rationalized, whether this is for reasons of constructive optimization, or environmental and economic justification. But the macro scale approach to geometry in design – the design of form and shape – is only one mediator of the designs impact in its surroundings. This paper will discuss what happens when designers fundamentally question the role of materials in design, and specifically what happens when “new” materials and their performative characteristics can be modelled and implemented into the digital design decision process. These approaches are showcased in “proof of concept” projects that have been developed using digital design and production technologies, in collaboration with material scientists and industry.