Porous metals and ceramic materials are of critical importance in catalysis, sensing, and adsorption technologies and exhibit unusual mechanical, magnetic, electrical, and optical properties compared to nonporous bulk materials. Materials with nanoscale porosity often are formed through molecular self-assembly processes that lock in a particular length scale; consider, for instance, the assembly of crystalline mesoporous zeolites with a pore size of 2–50 nm or the evolution of structural domains in block copolymers. Of recent interest has been the identification of general kinetic pattern-forming principles that underlie the formation of mesoporous materials without a locked- in length scale. When materials are kinetically locked out of thermodynamic equilibrium, temperature or chemistry can be used as a “knob” to tune their microstructure and properties. In this issue of the MRS Bulletin, we explore new porous metal and ceramic materials, which we collectively refer to as “hard” materials, formed by pattern-forming instabilities, either in the bulk or at interfaces, and discuss how such nonequilibrium processing can be used to tune porosity and properties. The focus on hard materials here involves thermal, chemical, and electrochemical processing usually not compatible with soft (for example, polymeric) porous materials and generally adds to the rich variety of routes to fabricate porous materials.