Koert van Mensvoort

Creative Director
Artist and philosopher. The discovery of Next Nature has been the most profound experience in his life so far.
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Back to the Tribe

Cavemen Used ‘Facebook’ Already

Scientists claim to have discovered a “prehistoric version of Facebook” used by ancient tribes to communicate with each other. After analyzing over 3000 rock art images in Sweden and Russia, Mark Sapwell and his team from Cambridge University concluded that the sites functioned like an “archaic related stories version” of social networks where users shared thoughts and emotions and gave stamps of approval to other contributions – very similar to today’s Facebook like.

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Food Technology

Kitchen of 2001 – Envisioned in 1967

The godfather of news, Walter Cronkite, had a show on CBS that showed off technology of the future. One episode that aired on March 12, 1967 showed off what a kitchen would look like in 2001.

Cronkite predicted that “Meals in this kitchen of the future are programmed. The menu is given to the automatic chef via typewriter or punched computer cards.” and not only the meal, but also the “cups and saucers are molded on the spot.”

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Food Technology

In-Vitro Meat Visions in The Guardian

Last weekends edition of the Guardian ran a special on the future of food by Alex Renton, featuring some of the In-Vitro Meat Visions developed at Next Nature Lab. Highly recommended. Unsure if the modernistic tomato featured in the image is a meat tomato. Peculiar image of the week.

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Anthropomorphobia

Portrait of MAN

If only this short by Steve Cuts wasn’t so incredibly well made, I would dare to criticize it for promoting a misanthropic perspective on humankind that stands in an outdated Christian tradition, portraying people as a sinful beings that merely destroy the Paradise we were once kicked-out of.

I doubt if such self-hatred is helpful in understanding our human position on the planet. Great animation, still. And at least there is a happy ending. Thanks Ad.

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Biocustomization

Strawberry Noir

Hypernature ahoy! Behold the Strawberry Noir, a 2050 strawberry breed with high levels of anthocyanin and Vitamin C, and black lace doilies for the fashion market.

The speculative hyperfruit has been envisioned as part of Carole Collet’s research on how we might program plants to grow into ready-to-pick luxury textile products in the future. Should plants be genetically controlled to perform specific functions for us? And if we move further into this alley, what will be the risks, opportunities and design methods?

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Catalysts of Evolution

Nature is Dead, Long live Nature

Today the human impact on our planet can hardly be underestimated. Climate change, population explosion, genetic manipulation, digital networks, hurricane control and engineered microbes. Untouched old nature is almost nowhere to be found. “We were here,” echoes all over. This omnipresence of human activity motivated some to announce the end of nature and proclaim a post natural future. Contrary to these observations, I believe that it is not nature that died, disappeared or became obsolete, rather that our notion of nature is changing.

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Image-Consumption

Happy Meat

While the meat-industry deliberately creates products in which you cannot recognize the animals they are made of, the toy-industry deliberately simplifies and exaggerates animal characteristics into caricature. The Happy Meat project by Type-B combine the best of both worlds in a rather uncanny hybrid. Bon appetit!

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Green Blues

Should I be Afraid of…

Beyond the doomsday hype, what should we actually fear for the future? For doom-mongers delight, the Berlin-based design studio Bold Futures made a handy poster +  interactive graph of the fatal disasters that might snuff us someday.

Their doom menu ranges from irresponsible human behavior gone astray, to ‘natural’ disasters, to out-of-control technology. Notice that mixing the various scenario’s results in a lethal next nature cocktail. Let’s hope we can avoid such dystopia and manage to plot out a more rewarding track towards the future. Anyhow, we can be sure we will get the next nature we deserve.

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Next Nature

The Rise and Fall or Rayfish Footwear

For almost three years, we worked on a sneaker company that we knew would go bankrupt on the day it was founded. This is our coming out.

The fictional company Rayfish.com offered personalized sneakers crafted from genetically modified stingray leather. The online storytelling project was created to catalyze a debate on emerging biotechnologies and the products it may bring us. It furthermore questioned our consumptive relationship with animals and products in general. While such discussions often remain abstract, we aimed to make them tangible in a concrete product you can love or hate.

The rise and fall of Rayfish Footwear took place within a period of seven months. The story began with the launch of the corporate website, commercial, CEO lecture and online design tool. The startup immediately received significant media attention and seemed bound for success, however, there were also critical petitions against the company’s instrumental use of animals.

While almost ten thousand people had designed their own fish sneaker, animal rights activists broke into the company and released all the fishes in the ocean. The CEO of the company, Dr. Raymond Ong, responded with a passionate video statement, which stirred further debate on our estranged relationship with products in a globalized world.

While Rayfish was struggling to find new investors, the escaped fishes where out in the open and started appearing into video’s of tourists and fishermen. The story ended with the bankruptcy of Rayfish, after which the true objective of the company was revealed and the ‘making of video’ was released.

Seven highly exclusive prototypes of Stingray leather sneakers were created. The leather of the shoes was dyed with paint, rather than genetically modified.

Further information on our motivations, collaborators and supporters can be found on the Rayfish Event webpage. We welcome comments on the Rayfish Facebook page or in the box below. Thanks for participating!

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Fitness Boosters

Human Barbie

Just when you thought the Second Life hype was long gone, meet Ukrainian body artist Valerie Lukyanova who aims to turn Second Life into First Life.

They call her the Human Barbie. She has been posting images & videos of her hypernatural beauty since November last year and her emergence on the internet erupted a virtual firestorm. Many have wondered if she was a hoax, however, her appearance in a television show seems to confirm she is a real lady.

Although we wholeheartedly grant Valerie the morphological freedom to alter her body like a Barbie, we also advise her to read the essay Anthropomorphobia – Exploring the Twilight Zone between Person and Product. It might help understand the uncanniness her fellow members of the human species experience with her appearance.

Via Vmagazine.com. Thanks Janine, Thanks Ronald.

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Back to the Tribe

Helmet Crafted from Wood and Cork is just as Safe as Your Plastic and Foam One

Back to the natural future? A startup company in Oregon is manufacturing bike helmets made of wood and cork that should meet or surpass the impact performance of plastic and foam helmets. The latest advancements in industrial technology such as computer aided designing and CNC machining make it possible to use traditional materials to replace high-tech synthetics, which can mean shortening, localizing, and decentralizing industrial supply chains. However, a speciality product like wooden bike helmets made from locally sourced materials is sure to be marketed and shipped worldwide, at least until the patent runs out.

Via Gizmodo, Thanks Jake Greear.

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