Biodesign: From Inspiration to Integration

The Nature Lab's 80 anniversary culminated with Biodesign: From Inspiration to Integration, an exhibition curated in collaboration with William Myers. The exhibition ran from Aug 25—Sept 27 and showcased recent examples of design and art that inform our complex relationship with nature and help us decipher how it may evolve in the future. On opening day, we hosted a half-day symposium that brought 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.

Participating artists|designers from left to right: Katy High, Emma Conley, Fabienne Felder, Anne Liu, Megan Valanidas, Uli Westphal, Jon McCormack, Jen Bervin
Uli Westphal speaking about his projects The Cultivar Series (Lycioersicum III, Capsicum I, Phaseolus vulgaris I), The Cultivar Series (Zea mays I), and Suicide Soda

In conversation with the Biodesign exhibition, we invited german designer Basse Stittgen (based in the Netherlands) to address the challenge of waste generated by industrial mass production through a hands-on workshop for the RISD community. Inspired by his own work, particularly the Blood-Related series made entirely from blood generated by the meat industry, Basse emphasized materializing invisible waste, elevating what is typically cast away. Leading with this, workshop participants were tasked with mapping the waste streams in Rhode Island and exploring their potential as material by generating scenarios and processes that make use of that waste.

Students generating new material at the Multitude of Waste workshop

We closed out the exhibition with a tour of the Biodesign show and talk by Modern Meadow, a pioneer in biofabrication using the latest tools from biotechnology to build a new world of materials. Their ZoaTM Biofabricated Materials are designed and grown from animal free collagen. Through the collaboration of design, biology and material science, they create materials to solve sustainability challenges while reimagining material possibilities.

Callie Clayton speaking about Modern Meadow's work, ZoaTM Biofabricated Materials

As a Materials Design Research Associate on Modern Meadow’s Design Team, Callie Clayton [BFA 17 TEXT] spoke to the role and work of the Design Team within the company and their pieces in the Nature Lab BioDesign exhibit. She also shared how her background and experience working at Modern Meadow has shaped her perspective on what “making” means at the intersection of disciplines.

Learn more about all the projects exhibited at the Biodesign show below:
CLICK HERE to read the Biodesign: From Inspiration to Integration Catalogue

Many thanks to the following:

Lead Curator: William Myers
Co-Curators: Lucia Monge (MFA 15 SC), David Kim (MFA 14 DM)
Curatorial Assistants: Julia van den Hout (non-RISD) and Peter Rogers (MFA 19 DM)
Exhibition and Identity Design: Angela Torchio (MFA 19 GD)
Co-Partners|Sponsors: RISD Co-Works and Campus Exhibitions

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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.​

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