CMF design

Color, Materials, Finish (CMF) is an area of industrial design that focuses on the chromatic, tactile and decorative identity of products and environments.


CMF design uses metadesign logic, the simultaneous planning of the identity of entire ranges of products for a given brand. This makes it possible, for example, to adopt a single color matrix, instead of using a series of separate and different color cards for each line of products, as previously done. A contribution to the development of this approach to design was the impetus provided by the proliferation in the 1980s of complete ranges of new systemic products.

Brand products are often thought up by different designers who through the use of ad-hoc CMF design manuals can work together to ensure a unique but coordinated identity for the products. This working process is advantageous in terms of the choice of color base for systemic products that are either of heterogeneous origin or are considered OEM products. The latter, even if characterized by different forms, can be connoted with the base colors or materials that are representative of the brand due to CMF design. Since CMF design manuals and the color matrix have a prescriptive role, the designers who create them are rarely involved in the applicative distribution either of colors, materials or finishes of individual products..


  • Liliana Becerra, CMF Design, The Fundamental Principles of Colour, Material and Finish Design April 2016
  • A. H., Herman Miller, Color Systems for Systems Furniture, American Fabrics and Fashions, Fall 1983, n. 129, pp. 43–50
  • Sarah O. Marberry, Compendium helps designers coordinate color program, Contract, January 1985, p. 99
  • Mitchell C. Thomas, New Thinking In Design. Conversations on Theory and Practice, Van Nostrand Reinhold USA, 1996, pp. 60–71


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