Beautiful Mutation series from Belgian designer Maarten De Ceulaer show how herpes would dramatically enhance the look of your Yves Klein blue sofa. Indeed the velvety series looks more comfortable than Tokujin Yoshioka’s growing crystal chair- although it’s only a biomimicmarketing simulation rather than a truly biological or chemical process.
De Ceulaar explains,” The pieces in this series look like they weren’t made by hands, but have grown to their present form organically. They might be the result of a mutation in cells, or the result of a chemical or nuclear reaction. Perhaps it’s a virus or bacteria that has grown dramatically out of scale. The Mutation pieces make you look at furniture in a different way. Maybe one day we would be able to grow a piece of furniture like we breed or clone an animal, and manipulate its shape like a bonsai tree.”
While society is still discussing futuristic in-vitro meat scenarios, designers are already watching TV on their very own in-vitro furniture.
One of the many arguments for high-wattage storefronts, streets and parking lots is that bright lights deter crime. Since neighborhood thugs lurk in the shadows, the reasoning goes, it’s best to make sure there are no shadows at all. This commonsense conclusion has been called into doubt by findings that show no correlation between crime levels and lighting.
So why is this finding great news? It gives us all an excuse to turn off the lights. Artificial lighting at night wreaks havoc on our circadian rhythms, leaving us at risk for obesity, depression, even cancer. It’s also bad for wildlife, from birds to turtles and flying insects. Light pollution is even unhealthy for our sense of awe: Eight in ten kids born in the United States today will never see the Milky Way outside of a planetarium.
The end of bright, pushy electric lights might also make way for more humane nighttime lighting. Imagine navigating canals by bioluminescent bacteria, or walking down side streets illuminated with gentle bacterial glow. Or, just plant the whole city with rows of bioluminescent trees.
Are you blessed with a Maria Callas kind of voice? If, like us, you don’t go beyond croaking the occasional ” I want to break free” in the shower, watch out. If the artists of Algae Opera have their way, your morning algae might not taste so sweet.
Algae Opera debuted at the London 2012 Design Festival as part of Isoculture, a project that redesigns the city as a self-sustaining system. The structure, created by After Agri, channels the flow of CO2 produced by the powerful lungs of an opera singer’s breath into plastic tubes that feed what may soon become a fundamental source of nutrition: algae. But that’s not all there is to this synesthetic experience. The song and modulation of the singer’s voice, in connection with new techniques of sonic enhancement, influence the perception of the eating experience, shifting the taste of algae to either bitter or sweet.
Algae opera is a project that reframes art as a functional actor in future society, recontextualizing opera from a pleasing aesthetic experience to a functional tool to grow food. The project shows how society’s sensibilities can be reframed through technology and creativity, in order to deal with the challenges we’ll face as inhabitants of an overpopulated planet. So lie back and relax: dinner will be ready around the third act.
It’s a self-evident truth that there’s nothing that can’t be better with bacon – including housing. While Next Nature was busy dreaming up new in vitro meat (IVM) foods, the mad scientists of Terreform ONE in New York went ahead and designed an entire dwelling made of IVM pig cells. While the prototype for the “victimless shelter” is just conventional pig leather, the real deal (if it ever exists) would be a complex structure with tissue-engineered bone for support and giant sphincters for windows. We’ll leave it up to the religious authorities to decide whether a pork house is kosher.
Living lamps like Latro Algea Lamp by Mike Thompson are nothing new. But design studio MADLAB has created Bacterioptica, a lamp that contains organisms and bacteria from the family that owns it. The statement reads:
“It is alive in a very literal sense: it cultivates, distributes and illuminates the bacterial life of its family members by way of a branching assembly of metal rods, glass petri dishes and fiber optics.
“Bacterioptica is adaptive by design, not only in its form and mechanics, but more importantly, in the way it evolves. Step- by-step instructions guide the family through procedures to experiment with and prepare each bacterial sample for its place in the chandelier. Whether featuring bacteria from the skin, the yard or the dinner guests, Bacterioptica is continually changing in shape and luminosity.”
With this lamp your family can literally light up your life.
When moss photosynthesize, they release nutritious fats, carbs and proteins into their roots to feed colonies of helpful, symbiotic bacteria. In the process of breaking down these compounds, the bacteria release electrons. In other words, the create electricity. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have figured out how to harness these minute electrical charges into an emerging technology called biophotovoltiacs (BPV).
Created by Alex Driver, Carlos Peralta, Paolo Bombelli, the prototype Moss Table produces enough electricity to power a small lamp. According to Peralta, the Moss Table “suggests a world in which self-sustaining organic-synthetic hybrid objects surround us, and supply us with our daily needs in a clean and environmentally friendly manner.” Small devices could be powered by houseplants or backyard gardens, while larger arrays of plants might hold promise as a new renewable source of energy, especially in remote or impoverished communities.
The self-repairing sole is a dynamic solution to an everyday problem.
The ‘proto-sole’ is suitable for all footwear ranging from mainstream consumer trainers to haute couture footwear. It consists of a fluid reservoir, like a bubble, which is situated in the heel of the shoe, where the ingredients to make the active agents ‘protocells’ are pumped by the foot and mixed on demand as they leave the storage vessel. The newly formed protocells move through the spongy sole of the shoe where they are delivered to and activated at sites of wear and tear.
Protocells are a form of organic hardware that is not technically ‘alive’ since they do not possess any DNA. Yet they are capable of life-like behaviour that draws from the self-organizing potential of their ingredients. In keeping with Stuart Kauffman’s notion of ‘order for free,’ the protocells are equipped with remarkable, emergent properties such as, movement, sensitivity and the production of microstructures.
What if 3D objects could not only be printed by normal techniques, but naturally grown, using photo sensitive bacteria? Fast Company reports that IDEO and University of California, San Francisco, have been working on exploring ”the possibilities of exploiting known properties of microorganisms to literally “grow” the products we use every day”. The idea is to use E.coli bacteria that reacts to light, so they can be controlled to grow in a specific pattern, thereby growing consumer products.
The project is on a conceptual basis, but the benefits of growing consumer products instead of manufacturing them are both ecological and economical. Head over to Fast Company for the full story.
No, those aren’t plastic trinkets or beads from a craft store. They’re diatoms, a group of single-celled algae, and unlike almost all of our current technologies, they can rapidly and reliably synthesize nanoscale structures. Diatoms produce incredibly complex silica shells that are riddled with a regular pattern of pores. As can be seen above, diatoms come in an incredible variety of shapes – around 100,000 species in all. Strong, easy and quick-growing, and virtually unlimited, diatoms are drawing the attention of scientists who are interested in nanotechnology.
As with many nanotechnologies, research into the use of diatoms is in its infancy. These microscopic algae have been studied for their ability of synthesize novel electrical devices, including new ways to detect pollution. A chemical process that converts their silica shells into silicon creates ready-made nano electronics. Since biologically active molecules attach to the pores in their shells, they may eventually function as a “lab on a chip” for detecting antibodies, traces of diseases, and other chemicals in the body. Diatoms also show promise in the fields of optics. Solar energy cells with diatom-based coatings capture three times more electrons that standard coatings. Genetic manipulation might refine the diatom’s natural precision engineering to create bespoke parts for nanosensors and nanoscale machines from diatoms. Further proof that guided growth is the future of manufacturing.
Using animal blood for building your own house sounds like something from a horror film, but architect Jack Monro has created a set of experimental bricks that take bovine blood as their raw material.
According to Monro the blood bricks are “a potential replacement for mud bricks in regions which have suffered significant rain damage such as Siwa, Egypt”, because it’s a sustainable and cheap way of building houses. A slaughtered bullock, for example, produces over 30 liters of blood. Blood also happens to be one of the most-wasted “materials” in the world.
Beyond the addition of the preservative EDTA no chemicals are required for manufactering the blood bricks. The preservative is added to prevent bacterial and fungal growth in the blood. The relatively low coagulation temperature of blood (over 64 C) would allow for the bricks to be baked using desert sunlight only. All this makes the blood brick a good substitution for conventional building materials.
Monro’s research forms part of a wider trend focusing on the uses of biomaterials, including mushrooms and bamboo, in construction projects.
Another step in the fusion of the made & the born: Biological physicist Gabor Forgacs envisions to “print” new organs for use in clinical trials. Similar to an inkjet printer, Forgacs and his team use bio-ink particles to print living cells that sequentially organize themselves into a more complex tissue structures. Since the organ is printed from your own cells, chances of rejection should be minimal.
Design by planning vs design by doing. Desire paths are unplanned paths grown by the erosion of its use. They emerge as shortcuts where constructed pathways take a circuitous route. Perhaps one day, all our roads will be desire paths.
Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) sounds almost too good to be true. The same microscopic particles that help trees to stand up straight are also lightweight, non-toxic, stronger than steel and just happen to be the most abundant organic compound on Earth. First studied in earnest in the early 1990s, manufacturers can now produce pure NCC from wood pulp.
Some early boosters are predicting that NCC will replace metals, conventional glass, and petroleum-based plastics in everything from helicopters to office towers. The material is cheap, and doesn’t even require felling entire trees: It can be recovered from twigs, sawdust and presumably any plant with woody components. Though NCC is cheap, is potential profitability is anything but. The USDA anticipates that the nanocrystalline cellulose market will hit $600 billion by 2020. NCC might wean us off mining for nonrenewable resources, might lead to a second rush on the world’s forests, or may simply blow away in a puff of nanoscale hype.
Via Atlantic Cities.
In a twist on the classic “microbes that turn shit into petrol“, researchers at MIT have developed a bacterium that turns carbon dioxide into a direct substitute for gasoline. When deprived of certain nutrients, the soil bacterium Ralstonia eutropha goes into hoarder mode, shoring up its carbon stores in anticipation of leaner times. The complex carbon polymers that the bacteria store happen to be very similar to petroleum-based plastics, a coincidence that wasn’t lost on the scientists.
By tweaking the microbe’s genome and adding genes from other organisms, the team was able to create a bacterium that makes isobutanol rather than plastic. The researchers are currently focusing on figuring how to manipulate the bacteria to use atmospheric carbon dioxide as a source, although it could feasibly be made to use agricultural or municipal waste. As if turning a greenhouse gas back into fuel isn’t benefit enough, Ralstonia eutropha, unlike other microbes engineered to produce gas, continually excrete fuel and so don’t need to have be destroyed in order to extract the chemical. The scientists hope these microbial factories may one day compete with the ethanol industry as the primarily source of biofuel.
Chef Dan Barber discusses a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu? With impeccable research and deadpan humor, he chronicles the discovery of a unique open-ended and utmost sustainable fish farm in Spain.
Idea worth spreading: Embrace complexity and guide its growth.
With the knowledge that footballs were once made of pig’s bladder and that in 2006 the first artificial bladder was transplanted into a patient, artist John O’Shea designed the first bio-engineered football made of lab grown pig’s bladder.
He harvested animal cells from abattoir waste, used rapid prototyping and very precise tissue engineering to create a modern version of the medieval football.
O’Shea hopes his ‘super-football,’ will encourage audiences to consider the importance science plays in our daily lives. Pig’s Bladder Football will be presented at the Abandon Normal Devices festival between 30 August – 7 September.
Have you heard of Elephantiasis? It is a disease caused by microscopic parasitic worms that cause a thickening of the skin and underlying tissues. The disease typically occurs in tropical regions, however, as it seems it recently transferred to consumer products.