80 Years of the Nature Lab

The Nature Lab at RISD is pleased to announce Biodesign: From Inspiration to Integration, an exhibition curated in collaboration with William Myers that marks the culmination of our 80th anniversary celebrations. The exhibition runs from Aug 25—Sept 27, with a half-day symposium and opening reception on Aug 24. It showcases recent examples of design and art that inform our complex relationship with nature and help us decipher how it may evolve in the future.

To launch the exhibition we are hosting a half-day symposium that brings together international artists, designers, scientists and educators for talks, discussions and presentations on topics such as valuing non-human forms of life as collaborators, artistic and scientific modes of inquiry, and ethical considerations in bioart and biodesign practices.

The opening of the exhibition also marks the release of the 2018 edition of Biodesign: Nature + Science + Creativity (MoMA).

Half-Day Symposium + Opening Reception August 24

1 PM - 5PM — Symposium
Registration Required ($15 / Free for members of RISD community)
5:30 PM - 7:30PM — Opening Reception
Free and Open to the Public

Can't join us? Click here to watch our livestream of the symposium.

Read below for more about the half-day symposium, exhibition, tours, and programming.

Upcoming events



RISD Nature Lab—13 Waterman Street, Providence, RI 02903
11:30-12:45 pm Registration and Nature Lab Open House
RISD Chace Center - 20 N Main St, Providence, RI 02903
1:00-1:15 pm Opening remarks by Nature Lab Director, Neal Overstrom
1:15-1:30 pm Introduction to Biodesign: From Inspiration to Integration by William Myers
1:30-2:45 pm Presentations from participating artists: Jon McCormack (AUS), Kathy High (US), Emma Conley and Jen Bervin (US).
2:45-3:05 pm Break
3:05-4:20 pm Presentations from participating artists: Ani Liu (US), Fabienne Felder (SUI), Uli Westphal (GER), and Megan Valanidas (US)
4:20-5:00 pm Roundtable discussion—Urgency of reforming design practice: potential solutions through ethical biodesign applications
Opening Reception
Woods Gerry Gallery - 62 Prospect St, Providence, RI 02906
5:30-7:30 pm Opening reception for Biodesign: From Inspiration to Integration
5:30-6:30 pm Book signing— Biodesign: Nature + Science + Creativity (MoMA, 2018)

6:30-7:00 pm Guided tour of the exhibition with curator William Myers

August 24
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
RISD Museum, Chace Center, Metcalf Auditorium, 20 North Main Street, Providence, RI 02903

Biodesign: From Inspiration to Integration


An exhibition curated by William Myers and the RISD Nature Lab, this show features the following works:

Hy-Fi and Bio-processing Software—David Benjamin / The Living
Mycelium architecture, made in collaboration with Ecovative and 3M.

Zoa—Natalia Krasnodebska / Modern Meadow
Leather grown using yeasts that secrete collagen, and grown completely without animal derivatives.

The Built Environment Microbiome—BioBE Center / Jessica Green, Sue Ishaq and Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg
The BioBE conducts research into the built environment microbiome, mapping the indoor microbiome, with an eye towards pro-biotic architecture.

Zea Mays / Cultivar Series—Uli Westphal
Newly commissioned corn study, this project highlights maize’s evolution through interaction with humans.

Harvest / Interwoven—Diana Scherer
Artist coaxes root systems plant root systems into patterns.

Fifty Sisters & Morphogenesis—Jon McCormack
Artist algorithmically generates images that mimic evolutionary growth, but tweaks them to include aesthetics of the logos of global petroleum producing corporations.

Organ on a Chip—Wyss Institute
Wyss Institute creates microchips that recapitulate the functions of living human organs, offering a potential alternative to animal testing.

AgroDerivatives: Permutations on Generative Citizenship—Mae-Ling Lokko
This project proposes labor, production criteria and circulation of capital within agrowaste/bioadhesive upcycling ecosystems.

New Experiments in Mycelium—Ecovative
Ecovative makes prototypes of mycelium items such as insulation, soundproofing tiles, surfboards, lampshades.

Bistro in Vitro—Next Nature Network
Performance with speculative future foods samples. The installation will include video screens and a cookbook on a table display.

Raw Earth Construction—Miguel Ferreira Mendes
This project highlights an ancient technique that uses soil, focusing on how soil is living.

Burial Globes: Rat Models—Kathy High
This project presents glass globes that hold the ashes of the five HLA-B27 transgenic rats, each one named and remembered: Echo, Flowers, Tara, Matilda, Star.

To Flavour Our Tears—Center for Genomic Gastronomy
Set up as an experimental restaurant, this project places humans back into the foodchain — investigating the human body as a food source for other species.

Blood Related—Basse Stittgen
A series of compressed blood objects—inspired by Hemacite objects made from blood/sawdust compressed in a process invented in the late 19th century—highlights bloodwaste in the slaughterhouse industry.

Silk Poems—Jen Bervin
A poem made from a six-character chain represents the DNA structure of silk, it refers to the silkworm's con-structure of a cocoon, and addresses the ability of silk to be used as a bio sensor, implanted under people's skin.

Zoe: A Living Sea Sculpture—Colleen Flanigan
Zoe is an underwater structure, part of coral restoration research, that regenerates corals in areas highly impacted by hurricanes, human activity and pollution.

Aquatic Life Forms—Mikhail Mansion
Computationally generated lifeforms animated using motion-based data captured from Arelia aurita.

Algae Powered Digital Clock—Fabienne Felder
By turning electrons produced during photosynthesis and bacterial digestion into electricity, algae will be used to power a small digital clock.

A Place for Plastics—Megan Valanidas
This designer presents a new process of making bioplastics that are bio-based, biodegradable AND compostable

Data Veins & Flesh Voxels—Ani Liu
This project explores how technology influences our notion of being human from different points of view, with a focus on exploring the relationship between our bodies as matter and as data.

Pink Chicken Project—Studio (Non)human (Non)sense/ Leo Fidjeland & Linnea Våglund
By changing the color of chickens to pink, this project rejects the current violence inflicted upon the non-human world and poses questions of the impact and power of synthetic biology.

August 24
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Woods Gerry Gallery, 62 Prospect Street, Providence, RI 02903
Past events

Eating with the Ecosystem

October 08
11:00 am
Tillinghast Farm

Wonder: Nature Lab 80th Anniversary + Exhibition Opening

October 07
4:30 pm
Nature Lab

Hand-on workshops during RISD Weekend

October 06
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Nature Lab

Observing Nature: Edna Lawrence & Cabinet of Curiosities

Read full story about the Providence Athenaeum's Salon, "Edna’s Nature Lab | RISD’s Nature Lab" here.

April 06
Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit St, Providence, RI 02903

Open Call for Proposals! Biodesign: From Inspiration to Integration

Application process is now closed. Click here for more Information

March 15
Rhode Island School of Design, 2 College Street, Providence, RI 02903

Leave Your Mark at the Nature Lab

April 07

Latin-American Collection Exhibition: aka "The Greatest Show on Earth"

Find more details about this exhibition here.

April 05
13 Waterman Street, Providence, RI 02903

RISD Weekend celebrated our 80th anniversary

The Nature Lab just turned 80 and it will be a year long celebration of our past and future. Alumni, students and families are all welcome to join the Nature Lab's 80th anniversary celebrations.

Tribute booth

Help us celebrate our anniversary by sharing your anecdotes about Miss Lawrence and the Nature Lab! A big thank you to the alums who have shared their memories of the Nature Lab so far.

Be a part of this celebration and share your favorite memory of the Nature Lab and what it meant to you by visiting: https://www.tribute.co/risd/

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

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The RISD Nature Lab is an EPSCoR|C-AIM Core Research Facility supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #OIA-1655221 and EAGER Grant Award #1723559. ​​​Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this site are those of the Nature Lab and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.​

© 2018 Rhode Island School of Design Nature Lab