I understood to the point that material design principles mimics real world materials while designing elements in the virtual space.

While I was reading the specs over here: http://www.google.com/design/spec/what-is-material/material-properties.html#material-properties-transforming-material

"They say the material cannot fold or bend." Paper is also considered a material, but it bends and folds. Suppose I build physical prototype using materials which bend. Then how I do convert them using material design into a virtual interface?

Suppose I would like to build an application which imitates a book.(flipboard) How do I go about designing the app or interface using these principles?

PS:I have no formal / professional UI/UX dev experience. I am programmer and I exploring the possibilities for one my projects to use "Material Design". I am doing some reconnaissance before suggesting the same to team, so as to not look stupid before UX experts. So pardon me, if the question is too trivial.

1 Answer 1


What they mean by that the "material never bends or folds" is that it should be confined within it's two dimensional space. One material can change shape in its X and Y dimensions (height and width), but never in its Z dimension (depth). What that means is that a material can't bend or fold since that would cause it to grow outside it's two dimensional space.

Materials (plural) can have relative Z value (that is, they can be layered on top or beneath each other), but ONE material can never breach its two dimensional plane.

  • 1
    Is this entirely accurate? For instance, when material buttons are "depressed" they appear to rise (counterintuitively) to the user's fingertip. Point is, this is at very least the appearance of z-depth translation, which for intents and purposes would make it just that. Have I misunderstood?
    – Todd
    Dec 7, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    @Todd Hi Todd, nice observation, but you're missing one key factor. When a material rise, that is, appears to move towards the observer the material does (as you point out) change its perceived z-depth. However, the material itself is still confined within its two dimensional space, a two dimensional surface can rise in z-depth, still being two dimensional, a two dimensional space can not bend or fold thought WITHOUT it converting to a tree dimensional representation. So to clarify, it's the materials that can't have three dimensional properties, Dec 8, 2014 at 9:06
  • they will exist however in a space with three dimensional properties (layers in an app UI) which allows for z-depth transition with materials withholding their two dimensional properties Dec 8, 2014 at 9:06
  • I appreciate the disambiguation; "never breach its own 2d plane" is where I got hung up. Thanks @androidhustle
    – Todd
    Dec 8, 2014 at 9:14

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