Feb 12

BioDesign: Nature, Science and Creativity by William Myers

BioDesign: Nature, Science and Creativity is a timely book that states the case for collaboration between: scientists, designers, engineers, artists and architects. It goes to considerable effort to pull together a range of diverse case studies showing their efforts.

Architectural applications of biodesign were the most obvious as could benefit from the use of nature for improving the building and local environment for the people within or nearby. This type of application was more important when the natural environment was severely depleted and biodesign was being used to replace what had been lost. In fact the loss of the natural environment and its importance under pins many of the case studies within the book – a sad state of affairs that needs to change. So biodesign can be that change, just as the industrial revolution was to world economies, a biodesign revolution could be the same for the environment and its inhabitants.

The biggest innovations of the twenty-first century will be the intersection of biology and technology, a new era is beginning – Steve Jobs

Most appreciated case studies for Creatifik were not nessesarily those that made aesthetic contributions but instead the clever use of biology and design to create tools or processes that would benefit the individual many times over. Ecocradle was a case study that replaced nightmarish polystyrene with fungal mycelia for use as a safe packaging material. The resulting material, which is being trailed by DELL Computers among others, can be added then grown during storage so as to be in place and ready for transit protecting the items. Then when not needed it can be added to the compost heep or easily discarded as its completely biodegradable.

Biobrick, Bioconcrete and Bioplastic are three materials based case studies that could revolutionise the world. Still in development these projects make use of engineered microorganisms to secrete the essential ingredients and disperse them effectively throughout the respective materials. But with the potential to ensure sustainable production, reduce the environment impact of current manufacturing processes and improve the quality of the materials each of these case studies show real promise overhauling age old industries.

Bioluminescence and the use of algae were key technologies used in several case studies. Bioluminescence is a very eye catching use of biodesign; however the use of algae was evident to be the key technology. Able to be engineered so as to produce or metabolise almost anything, it was shown how they could be used to produce everything from clothing to fuel.

This book gave us serious food for thought in our work as creatives who stradle design and science ourselves. As many of the case studies saw creative people working with scientists directly or at least consultants to their projects. With a significant scientific understanding and multidisciplinary creative team within Creatifik I can envision some biodesign projects of our very own arising soon, when the ideas present themselves and laboratory facilities are secured.

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