CMF Design – The Fundamental Principles of Colour, Material and Finish Design


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In this first book about the rather young discipline, the author consolidated its key principles, so that they can be consulted, referenced and utilised by both design students and professionals.

Only when the perfect balance between visual beauty and functional performance is achieved, can a product provide a consistent and successful user experience. The discipline of CMF design focuses on designing and specifying colours, materials and finishes to support both functional and emotional attributes of products. The work of the CMF designer combines aesthetics and practical knowledge of materials and technologies with intangible human perceptions of value.

This area of design expertise is increasingly in demand. Consumer product manufacturers have an enhanced awareness of its great potential for diversifying product portfolios at relatively low costs, while still maintaining a similar or the same product shape, functionality or tooling. It can work as a key avenue to create a sense of novelty and higher value propositions. From a marketing perspective, CMF design is a valuable tool when it comes to positioning products, collections and categories according to market tiers and consumer segmentations. 

Introducing the CMF process and detailing the areas of colour, material and finish design, this book serves as a valuable source of information about this emerging professional discipline and its fundamental principles.

About the Author

Liliana Becerra is an independent design strategist, professor, writer and curator based in Los Angeles, CA, United States. Through her studio, Becerra and her team of global experts advise Fortune 500 companies and brands on the recognition of global insights, trends and their articulation into strategic design opportunities. She is also faculty member of the Product Design Department at the Art Center College of Design in California, where she teaches design research, design insights and colour, material and finish design.


  • This is the first book that outlines the key principles of this emerging discipline.
  • Includes Q&As with CMF design experts.
  • Case studies of companies that successfully apply CMF design make this a thorough reference book.
  • Specialised source of information for both students as professionals.


Publication Details

  • Release: 1 March 2016
  • Frame Publishers
  • English
  • Written by Liliana Becerra
  • Graphic design by Liliana Becerra, Carlo Llacar, Claudia Geidobler, Zoe Bar-Pereg and Barbara Iwanicka
  • 170 x 240 mm
  • 208 pages / full colour / soft cover
  • ISBN 978-94-91727-79-5

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On 29 August 2017, Mia posted:

Like the other reviewers have mentioned, this is a great tool for those currently in the field and for those interested, yet still curious. Liliana is able to cover pretty much everything about the CMF industry in one book: various sub-categories and specific roles within CMF design, address misconceptions by offering behind the scene insights, and the value of CMF design/strategy within a company. I don't think this is just a great design tool, but an even better representation (if not, the first of it's kind) of a niche design field not many are aware of. Again, anyone who works in the field will greatly appreciate and agree with most of the content while the aspiring CMF designers will gain great insights and a comprehensive look into a creative, thoughtful, and meticulous design process.

On 8 August 2017, Amaya Gutierrez posted:

CMF explained at last! CMF (Color Material and Finish) Design is a little-known branch of product design yet one of the most important pieces of the puzzle in producing and selling a successful product. Thankfully “The Fundamental Principles of CMF Design” dissects and expands to a great depth the importance of this discipline.

If you want to understand how to add CMF design thinking to your workflow, then Liliana’s explanation and break down of CMF will not only help you understand how to apply it successfully but improve the quality of your designs and trend strategies.

I highly recommend this book as a companion in the design process of any professional and aspiring designer or artist. Understanding how to work with colors and materials is a life long journey; this book gives you the fundamentals on how to apply these innovatively.

On 21 May 2017, Jen posted:

Fantastic book, gives a real comprehensive look at CMF design and how it contributes to all areas of the world we see, feel and interact with on a daily basis. Well illustrated and a nice format to read, I would highly recommend it.

On 1 May 2017, Kevin Bethune posted:

Liliana Becerra's "The Fundamental Principles of CMF Design" is a wonderfully comprehensive position on a very important pillar within Product Design. Bringing the best of her professional experience in CMF, juxtaposed with the perspectives of luminaries and innovative company exemplars, this book definitely belongs in any professional industrial designer's library. I find myself referring back to it often for all my projects, and would recommend it to anyone that likes to amplify their product's narrative through the effective application of color, materiality and appropriate finishes. Thank you Liliana for this fine work!

On 20 January 2017, Bernard Mitchell posted:

Liliana Becerra's "The Fundamental Principles of CMF Design, Colour Material Finish" is a definitive book for the current, or aspiring CMF professional and/or companies without a CMF strategy. She breaks down CMF methodology into easily digestible chapters, with concise, informative instruction and guidance. The information in each chapter is a precursor to the next, building critical information in a methodically structured way. This is the first time the complete CMF process has been has compiled in a straightforward way, and will stand as the go to for years to come. As a design professional I highly recommend this book.

On 20 January 2017, Krista Humphrey posted:

This is such a straightforward and comprehensive guide to the CMF process. It has great insights from the author, who has worked in this field for years.

By reading this book you begin to understand the complexity and depth that this process entails, and can also gain understanding on how to assemble a cohesive CMF profile.

This is crucial content for any designer, whether working specifically in the field, or just looking to better appreciate the level of consideration and detail in this process.

5 stars based on 6 reviews

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