How did we arrive here? Design and engineering used to focus on materials that behaved isotropically — which is to say, uniformly and predictably. In the isotropic age, you would create a design and then assign a material to carry out a specific role in that design.
What if, however, you allowed materials to determine design, rather than vice versa? We see this in nature all the time. A seed, for example, works together with a specific environment to create a tree.
This is an example of anisotropic materials in action. Unlike isotropic materials, their behavior isn’t predetermined, so their performance can be tailored to their environment.