EN VIE ALIVE

CENTRAL ST MARTIN'S BIO-DESIGNERS HEAD TO PARIS

Over Summer, Paris hosted an exhibit curated by CSM's Textile Future's Director, Carole Collet. Textile Futures is the research centre for developing smart textiles at London's prestigious Central Saint Martins. It addresses the future of what everyday materials could be, and how they could be used.

Their event in Paris was called En Vie Alive, featuring the most promising fresh biotech artists, fashion and product designers.

"Imagine a world where biological fabrication replaces traditional manufacture, plants that grow products, and bacteria genetically re-programmed to ‘biofacture’ new materials, artefacts, energy or medicine.
This world is happening right now. Today, designers and artists have begun to either embrace or rebel against this bioengineered world and as a result, new design directions are beginning to emerge. The exhibition En Vie – Alive, presents a new design landscape, where fragments of a possible programmable ‘synthetic’ future are confronted with ‘natural’ alternative design perspectives. The quest for a different kind of ecological design models underpins the selection of projects, which range from potential sustainable solutions, to poetic interpretations and extreme provocations.
Created and imagined by leading designers, architects and artists, the work showcased here is decidedly different. These designers create and unravel a future hybrid world, where our everyday products and manufacturing tools will be ‘alive‘.
They operate within a sliding scale of a ‘natural nature’ and a new ‘programmable nature’ in the quest for innovative ecological models. In this exhibition I have created a hierarchy of possible relationships with nature, and designers are grouped around 5 themes."

Here's the roster that everyone who couldn't make it to Paris- should keep an eye on:

THE PLAGIARISTS: (NATURE AS A MODEL)

"Here we present designers and architects who look to nature for inspiring role models and new engineering solutions. They work with biomimicry principles, imitating processes or behaviour found in the natural world, but working with man-made and digital technologies."

The Plagiarists featured iconic bio-architect artist, Philip Beesley, who is well known for his metabolic architecture "Hylozoic Series" and most recently, his collaboration with fashion designer Iris Van Herpen, for SS13. His "Radiant Soil" exhibit encompasses biomimetic industrial design, a near-living installation with reactive shape-memory alloys. The feature "react to viewers as they approach, flexing and setting off bursts of light that stimulate the protocells and trigger chains of motion that ripple throughout the environment. Scent-emitting glands attract viewers and encourage interaction with the system, providing stimulus that increases air circulation and protocell formation" (source). Beesley's experimental installations challenge the traditionalism which dictates current western architecture, allowing the present day to experience the distance future of bio-cities.

Read more about the installation here.

Other 'Plagiarists' include:

ELAINE NG YAN LING: TECHNO NATUROLOGY

"‘Techno Naturology’ is an interactive textile collection that merges smart artificial technology (shape memory materials) with natural wood and fibres to mimic the responsive behaviour of a pine cone."

JENNY E. SABIN: E-SKIN

"Probing the human body for design models for adaptation, change and performance in architecture… The goal of eSkin is to explore materiality from nano to macroscales based upon an understanding of the dynamics of human cell behaviours."

CITA: THE RISE

"The architectural structure grows in response to its environment, extending and directing with the variations of light in the space, the gravity and its contact to the surroundings."

THE NEW ARTISANS: (NATURE AS A CO-WORKER)

"These designers and architects collaborate with nature. They work with bees, fungi, bacteria, algae or plants and develop new techniques to grow and craft consumer goods. Here, design relates more to gardening and farming than to manufacturing."

Leading the artisans is the much hyped Suzanne Lee with her next venture of "BioCouture" aka, clothes grown by bacteria. "BioCouture is pioneering a biodesign and manufacture future for fashion, sportswear and luxury brands. Founded by Suzanne Lee in 2003, the BioCouture atelier has explored the use of living cultures of microorganisms (yeast and bacteria) to grow biomaterials like cellulose into sustainable, compostable clothing." She debuted her footwear collaboration with recent LCF graduate, Liz Ciokajo-Squire.

Next up is Marin Sawa, taking the world's ultimate energy source and putting it through the 'Algaerium Bioprinter'. The "prototype demonstrates how microalgae can be cultivated in our domestic space to provide digitally printed health food on demand."

Universities CSM and ENSCI Les Ateliers presented the design and botany workshop 'Botanical Factory':

"By playing with the environment of growth of plants and by investigating a new production timescale depending on seasons, it becomes possible to produce without altering, to guide without controlling, to predict without programming."

THE BIO-HACKERS: (REPROGRAMMED, 'SYNTHETIC' NATURE)

"These designers and artists work in collaboration with synthetic biologists or respond to cutting-edge scientific research in the field of extreme bioengineering. They imagine what the products and interfaces of the future could become with the use of engineered living organisms. Their ideas illustrate a possible future world."

The curator Carole's concept 'Biolace' that went viral, was in clear view, a leading attraction for this section. "‘Biolace’ is located in 2050, in a future where all grown food is ‘enhanced’ and where sustainable manufacturing is compulsory for an overpopulated planet. ‘Biolace’ proposes to use synthetic biology as an engineering technology to reprogram plants into multi-purpose factories. Imagine hydroponic organic greenhouses, where new species of plants would produce ‘augmented’ food at the same time as growing fabrics from their roots."

NATSAI CHIEZA: FABER FUTURES "‘Faber Futures’ presents the first collection of textiles produced by traditional screen printing but using dyes produced by bacteria. It is a design project embodying a new age, a new craft which adopts extreme biotechnologies to challenge how we conceptualise materiality and indeed fabrication processes."

E.CHROMI E. chromi is a collaboration between designers and scientists in the new field of synthetic biology. In 2009, seven Cambridge University undergraduates spent the summer genetically engineering bacteria to secrete a variety of coloured pigments, visible to the naked eye.

THE NEW ALCHEMISTS: (HYBRIDISED NATURE)

"Here, designers, architects and artists propose to explore the merging of biology, chemistry, robotics and nanotechnology to create new hybrid organisms. They combine living (biological) with non-living (electronic and chemical) technology."

LAURA CINTIN C-LAB: NANOMAGNETIC PLANTS

Magnetic nanoparticles produce an ‘invisible interface’ capable of generating interactive motion in plants.

SHAMEES ADEN: AMOEBA SHOE

The ‘Amoeba’ surface-adapting trainer is a conceptual prototype that seeks to probe the future of new materials derived from protocells.

THE AGENT PROVOCATEURS (CONCEPTUALISED AND IMAGINED NATURE.)

This final group of artists and designers explores a provocative far future. Their work encourages a debate around ethical issues related to living technology and high-tech sustainability.

The section features two biotech powerhouses that are a must follow: Amy Congdon, who graduated from CSM last year, and Studio XO- an interactive technology developer.

AMY CONGDON: BIOLOGICAL ATELIER

"The project envisions a world where materials are not made, they are grown – where new luxury materials are fashioned from cells, not fabrics."

STUDIO XO: SKIN SUCKA

"Skinsucka reveals a scenario where microbially powered autonomous micro-devices share our living spaces and eat household dirt."

You may view more En Vie Alive exhibitors here, follow the Textile Futures course here, and their consultancy here.

WRITTEN BY Bacall Michaels IMAGES Courtesy of En Vie Alive