An overview of the projects and makers featured in Biotopia.
The Growing Lab - Mycelia
MOGU OFFICINA CORPUSCOLI / Maurizio Montalti
The Growing Lab – Mycelia is a process-based research project by Officina Corpuscoli. It investigates and assesses methods for partnering with fungal mycelium for the development of novel materials and production methodologies. By valorising organic waste-streams and low-value by-products of other production processes, selected species of fungal mycelium are here employed as agents of transformation for the creation of novel materials, each characterised by diverse qualities and therefore suitable for different applications.
The project looks at the ecosystem as a raw material to cultivate and seeks for new production alternatives, suggesting a shift from the traditional concept of industrial production towards an innovative model, rooted in growth and cultivation.
TextileLab Amsterdam - Waag Society/Cecilia Raspanti
Janthino, Serratia & Cecilia
One of the most polluting industries in the world is that of textiles, with the dyeing of fibres and material being the most environmentally disastrous processes within that industry. Chemicals are released daily into the natural world, destroying the environment around us to satisfy our colour demands. Janthino Lividum, Serratia Marcenscens and Cecilia Raspanti from TextileLab Amsterdam (Waag Society) explore dyeing with bacteria as an alternative.
Designers have been inspired by nature for centuries, mainly focusing on its aesthetics and functionalities. Today, technology allows us all to explore and observe micro mechanisms showing how various bacteria function and perform activities. This collaboration project is a research exploration of how we can not only learn and imitate, but also collaborate with micro organisms. As such, choosing to collaborate with bacteria means to learn from them, how to work in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.
De ZeewierSchool (the Seaweed School)
do|ob in collaboration with Studio Makkink & Bey
If a material or specific innovation is the promise of the future, how can a programme relate to this and effectively prepare its students for their professional practice? Studio Makkink & Bey developed this line of thought using seaweed – a raw material with great potential.
If the landscape were to be at the service of seaweed, what effect would this have on the traditional professions and what kind of new professions could it bring? How should the landscape be redesigned? The model of De Werkplaats provides a framework of thinking to explore the possibilities for a new industry. When we take the development of a seaweed industry as the starting point around which a community settles, we see how many crafts are involved in building such a society.
If this logic is further elaborated, it becomes clear that a community can grow around seaweed in which everyone believes in and can generate work from the material. Everyone who joins the community takes their own background, skills and tools with them, so that the area becomes more attractive and interdisciplinary exchanges arise as a matter of course.
Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven started up AlgaeFabrics in 2015 as an exercise to explore the most ambitious use of algae in the future. This exercise resulted in the concept of making fashion textiles from algae. Textile production demand is rapidly increasing, and by 2050 it is expected to increase 3 times over. In addition to this, there is practically no circularity in the industry as 95% of textiles is incinerated after the product lifetime has expired. Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven sees this as an opportunity for changes towards a more sustainable fashion value chain.
Project AlgaeFabrics envisions alga as a future raw textile material and is developing a strategy on how to achieve this. Organic alga organisms are found worldwide in the oceans and lakes and are the crucial element in the carbon flow, which has a positive impact on global warming. In places with excessive growth, algae are unwanted and cause problems – but once removed, most algae are seen as waste.
Cladophora, one of the alga species Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven works with, are rich in cellulose, making up to 70% its content. Cellulose is an excellent material for making yarn. Obtaining cellulose from the sea is by far the most renewable and sustainable way to harvest this material.
Design researcher Julia Lohmann focuses her work on natural materials. She discovered seaweed at a fish market in Japan. Seaweed can be grown in an ecologically sustainable way, at a rate of several meters per year and it even cleans its surroundings of pollution. Seaweed thrives in the ocean, the largest crop-growing area the planet has to offer.
The colour of seaweed fluctuates between various green and brown tones and is translucent. Lohmann works with seaweed from Japan, which she receives in dried form. The leaves – which can be up to two metres long and half a metre wide – are then soaked in water and a special solution to keep the material flexible. Then the seaweed is dried, pressed, ironed, sewn, laser-cut and used as a veneer or a covering material. For Lohmann, the resulting design objects are primarily a means of communication with which she aims to inspire people and raise awareness for seaweed as a material.
As designer in residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2013, she established the Department of Seaweed, a trans disciplinary community of practice exploring the marine plant’s potential as a design material.