Friday, October 11, 2013

On Show: Weird, Wondrous Science Meets Design

I’m no numbers cruncher, but with the world’s population projected to grow nearly 30 percent, to 9.1 billion people, in 25 years, I do have a few burning questions. Like, will there be enough world to go around? How much can we reasonably ask of this earth we walk on? How will we make, build and live with already limited and stressed resources?

While many of us are perfectly familiar with green building and eco materials, like reclaimed wood, bamboo and denim insulation, what I’m about to show you is much, much stranger. The fantastical future is nigh; as evidence, I bring you the current exhibit at The New Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

At Biodesign: On the Cross-Pollination of Nature, Science and Creativity (September 25, 2013, to January 5, 2014), you can learn about shoes made of bacteria, textiles of sugarcane, and floors of snail poop.

While many projects are conceptual or prototypes, others are real. For example, a few companies have already begun mailing and packaging products with mushroom insulation, including Crate & Barrel and Dell. And if you haven’t yet seen the Half-Life lamp, powered not by electricity but by hamster cells, you can read about that in this Houzz ideabook.

Curator William Myers chose projects that illustrate how living systems are now aiding in design and architecture. He also selected the more far-out to be provocative about what new technologies would mean to our lives.

7 Futuristic Nature-Meets-Design Concepts

1. The Fab Tree Hab

The concept: Houses that are grown instead of built. Yes, it could take seven years, depending on weather conditions. But let’s assume after that start-up phase, we’d just move from tree to tree.

Eco cred: No damage to the environment. We become part of it, rather than the other way around. Homes use living trees still integrated into their ecosystems. Your house would be grafted into shape, and branches would be trained to be woven together to form archways, lattices and screens through an ancient process called pleaching. Is anyone else thinking of Avatar’s Pandora people?

Continue reading On Show: Weird, Wondrous Science Meets Design

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