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Biodesign: A Sustainable Aesthetic

Some how, in the course of human development, we forgot where we came from. We assumed that we were all made of plastic and metal, and that progress came from machines, technology, steel and wires. If you were silver and shiny, you were the future.  Like Barbie dolls, only the body infused with plastic and scalpel could make us beautiful. Only sometimes, when we are quiet with ourselves, perhaps lost somewhere in the Arizona desert, or buoyant at sea in a faraway tropic, or even alone at home, sick as a dog and imagining the warfare and diplomacy happening within our cells, we remember that all the inspiration in the world – for everything – came from our natural environment.

Form creates function?  Or function before form?  When design and function dance seamlessly, we squeal with pleasure as our fancy single button ipads do what we want at the wave of a hand.  But, squealing is what little girls do when they see Justin Bieber.  When function and design are symbiotic, generative, responsive, and already integrated into our environment, well – we are speechless.  In awe of nature’s ability to provide.

Biodesign is the connection of biology, technology, and aesthetics.  The New York Times this week published a Home & Garden article on the “Beauty of Bacteria,” and the new and expanding trend toward living organisms generating reusable energy for household items, as well as being aesthetically avant garde.

“The idea that nature might be an honored houseguest and not just something that slithers in under the refrigerator is also behind “Bio Design: Nature, Science, Creativity,” a book published last month by the Museum of Modern Art. Written by William Myers, a New York-based writer and teacher, “Bio Design” focuses on the growing movement to integrate organic processes in the creation of buildings and household objects so that resources are conserved and waste is limited.” (NYT)

Designers copy nature all the time, from biomimicry to generative artJoris Laarman’s bone tissue chair (a chair that is created in the same way bones are formed, where hardimpact areas are largest and sturdiest), and his Halflife Lamp (made from hamster ovary cells and firefly DNA, lights up through chemical reaction - no electricity or batteries required) are both examples of Mr. Laarman’s  sustainable thinking process.  “We’re used to thinking we can throw away objects,” Mr. Laarman said by phone from Amsterdam. “We’re not used to objects you can care for or treat well, or that renew themselves.” 

This type of relationship between design, functionality, sustainability and the natural world (similar to the Cradle to Cradle concept) is one that emphasizes interconnectedness. We, as humans, generate energy during our life cycle and then return to dust. Studio 26, though devoid at present of chairs that look like bone tissue or bacterial chandeliers, was designed to support the sustainability of the natural world around us, and as such, support its natural inhabitants. In the hopes that all who come to Studio 26 to improve upon their own design, we put forth an environment that intelligently and carefully considers such an experience. Let us begin to make objects that do the same.

Sources: Google Images, Wikipedia, NYT Images via: