Tag: Guided Growth


Mutation Furniture: Your Living Room Comes Alive

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.

Story via Feeldesain. Image via De Ceulaer’s website

bright lighting at night

Bright Streetlights Make Us No Safer, and Why That’s Good News

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.

Story via Mother Jones. Image via Flickr user Kevin Dooley.

algae opera feeds algae with the breath of a singer

“Algae Opera” Nourishes Algae with a Singer’s Breath

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.

Story via Wired. Image via Laughing Squid.

victimless shelter

‘Victimless Shelter’ Grown from Pig Cells

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.

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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.

Via DesignTaxi

moss table creates electricity

Moss Table Powers Its Own Lamp

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.

See also the NANO Supermarket’s speculative algae-powered Latro Lamp and the Bioelectric Bonsai.

Story via the University of Cambridge. Image via Keetsa.

biomech 03 1998_03_INSIDE

Protocell Shoe Mends Itself

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.

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Guided Growth

Using Bacteria as a Future 3D-Printer

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.

diatom circle

Nanotech Diatoms

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.