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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Guided Growth

Desire Paths

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.

Biomimicry

Latro Algae Lamp

As advances in nanotechnology bring us increasingly energy efficient products, plant life such as algae could become attractive sources for tapping energy. The Latro lamp by designer Mike Thompson is a speculative product responding to this potential future market. It utilizes living algae as its power source.

The idea was inspired by a scientific breakthrough by scientists from Yansei and Stanford University that allows a small electrical current to be drawn from algae during photosynthesis. Placing the lamp outside in the daylight, the algae use sunlight to synthesize foods from CO2 and water.

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Biomimicmarketing

Selling Rum with Dragons, Berries & Bats

We remain startled by the continuous employement of ‘natural’ images to market products. Bacardi Rum wins the triple biomimicmarketing award with their latest dragon-berry mix. Apparently the marketeers of Bacardi expect the combination of bats, berries and dragons to successfully promote the alcoholic sugar drink.

According to the ingredients list the drink does indeed contains both strawberry and dragonfruit substrates. The bats are missing, however, they’re merely added to the marketing mix to metaphorically enforce the association with night live.

Bacardi furthermore recommends to enjoy the drink with ginger ale for a quadruple biomimicmarketing mix of Dragons, Berries, Bats, Ginger and Headaches. Image consumption in the overdrive. Cheers folks!

Economology

Dan Barber on the Ultimate Fish Farm

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.

Genetic-surprises

Post Natural Organisms of the EU

If you happen to be in the neighborhood you might want to drop by at the exhibition Post Natural Organisms of the European Union in Amsterdam. The small but delicate expo, curated by the good people of the Center for Post Natural History, presents eleven specimens of organisms that were intentionally altered by humans via domestication, selective breeding or genetic engineering. Think alcoholic rats, genetically modified wheat, a chihuahua, anti-malarial mosquitoes and a rib-less mouse embryo (image above).

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Design-for-debate

NANO Supermarket at Lowlands Festival

This weekend some of our sustainable, energy related, NANO Supermarket products are exhibited at the lustrous Lowlands popfestival. Come visit us at the Llowlab to charge your phone on our bio-electric bonsai tree, admire the algae lamp or the new energy belt that harvests sustainable energy from your belly fat to power electric devices you are carrying on or in your body. Design fiction ahoy!

Prototyping the Energybelt. How about turning your belly-fat into electricity?

Festival crowd charging their phones on the 'bio-electrical' bonsai tree.

Genetic-surprises

Rayfish CEO Responds to Break-In by Animal Rights Activists

A few days ago we wrote about the animal rights activists that broke into the Rayfish Footwear fish farm and stole the entire stock of genetically modified stingrays that the company was growing into bio-personalized sneakers.

The company now released a video in which their CEO, Raymond Ong, discusses the controversy around their product. He believes that “the issues that have surfaced since his company website was launched, reflect the complexity of our consumptive relationship with animals.” and calls the robbery an “irresponsible act that will have unforeseen consequences for years to come”.

The CEO furthermore claims the highest standards of wellbeing for both his stingrays and his workers, steering the debate towards the question whether it is more unethical to buy a pair of expensive handmade sneakers you know were “raised” for your own personal satisfaction, or to buy cheap disposable sneakers made by underpaid workers from cow leather “raised” under deplorable conditions.

“Most of us have become complete strangers to the products that surround us”, Ong said. The CEO also noted his concern that the genetically modified stingrays may interbreed with wild populations. Speaking of nature caused by people…

Back to the Tribe

Jet Powered Barbecue

At first sight it seems plain wrong to roast your burgers on this utterly technological machine: barbecuing is supposed to be a nostalgic low-tech activity that brings us back to nature and sooths our inner caveman.

Yet although we, 21th century people, consider barbecuing a more natural way of cooking food than our everyday microwave, at some point in our human history – most anthropologists estimate around 250,000 years ago – cooking food on fires was a radically new technological achievement: a handy technique to extend our stomach and predigest our food before it would enter our body.

Cooking is perhaps the greatest example of how that what was once a technological achievement may be naturalized over time – up to the level that we don’t recognize it as technology anymore and think of it as part of our nature. Think about it next time you place a burger on the grill, or in the molecular food printer for that matter.

Image source.

Biomimicry

Who will Question Bio-Engineering?

Bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe presents a parade of recent bio-engineering experiments, from glowing monkeys, to genetically boosted salmon, to cyborg insects. He asks: isn’t it time to set some ground rules? Sure. Bring it on Paul!

Now regular readers of this website already know most of the lustrous & monstrous examples, yet throughout the talk you feel a certain suspense: you-are-now-listing-to-a-real-bioethicist-who-any-minute-now-is-going-to-lay-out-some-crystal-clear-ground-rules-for-bio-engineering. Unfortunately Paul constrains himself to a call for rules, but doesn’t deliver them himself. Who will?

Thanks anyway Ewelina Szymanska.

Fake-nature

Arizona gets a Cactus Cellular Tower Too

Over six years ago we blogged our first cellphone antenna tree, and boy have they been propagating! Today you’ll find them in all kinds of species, cactus included. While biodiversity decreases, technodiversity increases. The one in the picture is being erected in a landscape theater in Arizona.

If you know a cellphone antenna tree in your surroundings, please use the Next Nature spotting iPhone app to share it. The best spot wins a copy of our book.

Via BoingBoing.

Hypernature

Escaped Pet Birds Teach Wild Cockatoos how to Talk

In some parts of Australia it is no exception to hear voices when there are no people near. The voices are the chatter of wild cockatoos that where taught words and sentences from escaped domesticated cockatoos.

Increasingly, inhabitants of the New South Wales province report birds that shout ‘Hello there!’, ‘Hello Darling’ and ‘What’s Happening’ from the trees. Some people thought they were going mad after watching a flock of birds in their garden while the animals shouted things like: “Who’s a pretty boy then?”

According to Australian Museum’s naturalist Martyn Robinson, the language is picked up from pet birds that escaped their cages and joined wild flocks. “These birds are very smart birds and very social and communication and contact is important between them”

“The pet bird begins to say things it’s been taught by its owner and the rest of the flock learns and starts speaking too, to mimic the pet bird,” Mr Robinson said. “I just hope a pet that’s been taught dirty words doesn’t join a flock.” Indeed that would unsettle our suburban backyards.

Via DeMorgen, Via DailyTelegraph. Image: Shutterstock. Thanks: Dennis Lodewijks.

Designed-by-Evolution

Jewels from the Ocean

Designer and former fashion model Barbara de Vries was cleaning plastic litter off her favorite beach in the Bahamas, when she noticed the plastic fragments were all uniquely tinted and molded after years tumbling in the ocean.  The beauty of the litter inspired her to create a jewelery collection. Diamonds plastics are forever!

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Digital-Presence

Sight – As Second Life becomes First Life

So you thought your live was already pretty much media-saturated? Indulge in the design fiction film Sight and you’ll realize you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The short portrays a speculative future wherein we all walk around with contact lens-like devices that augment our reality and connect us to the cloud — everything from games to entertainment to instruction to dating coaches. Created by by Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo.

Via Beyond the Beyond, Via Venturebeat.com

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