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A happy marriage between biology and technology

31 March 2020

DDW talks: Bio Design © Paul Marques Da Cruz
Last Dutch Design Week (DDW), we joined forces with our partners to organise DDW talks, a new curated talks programme. Together with key figures from the field of design and beyond, we explored a diversity of design disciplines, discussed current affairs, reflected on the past and looked towards the future. On Wednesday 23 March we joined forces with Next Nature Network and organised DDW talks:
Bio Design.

After watching the videos in this article, you will be entirely up to speed with the rapidly developing bio design field. During Dutch Design Week, the DDW talks: Bio Design programme was moderated by Editor in Chief of Next Nature NetworkRuben Baart. 

'The programme took a plunge into the impeccable range of possibilities, the beauty of working with - and learning from - nature, in order to collectively imagine a future worth living.' - Ruben Baart

The day started with a talk by American design historian, curator and author of Bio Design: Nature + Science + Creativity, William Myers. After that, designer Teresa van Dongen shared the findings of her search for alternative forms of light and energy through a number of projects. Her talk was followed up by Prof. Pirjo Kääriäinen, who stressed the importance of developing new raw materials and the smart usage of such materials. Bio-designer Emma van der Leest talked about her collaborations with large laboratories. The day was concluded by a panel discussion hosted by moderator Ruben Baart that included DDW ambassador Jalila Essaidi (BioArt Laboratories), director and founder of Mediamatic Willem Velthoven and Koert van Mensvoort (creative director of Next Nature Network).

William Myers

William Myers, curator, author and lecturer in the field of Bio Design, started off the day by asking a question: What defines Bio Design? During his talk, he explored the world of Bio Design, a world in which industrial and mechanical systems are being replaced by biological processes. What are the obstacles for the development of the field and how can we deal with them?

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Teresa van Dongen

In her talk, designer Teresa van Dongen described her personal search for alternative forms of light and energy. Doing so, she zoomed in on projects such as Ambio, Electric Life and Mud Well.

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Professor Pirjo Kääriäinen

Professor Pirjo Kääriäinen works at the Finnish Aalto University and is founder of CHEMARTS, a collaboration between the departments of Arts, Design and Architecture and Chemical Engineering. At CHEMARTS, they explore different ways to process cellulose-rich raw materials into new usable materials. Pirjo specifcally stressed the importance of making better and smarter use of these raw materials.

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Emma van der Leest

Bio designer Emma van der Leest, who was also one of last year's VPRO Toekomstbouwers (ed. Future Builders), often experiments with different types of biomaterials such as bacteria, algae, fungi and enzymes. During her talk, she spoke about her different projects in collaboration with large companies and laboratories.

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A panel discussion with Jalila Essaïdi, Willem Velthoven and Koert van Mensvoort

The day was concluded by a panel discussion with DDW ambassador Jalila Essaïdi (artist and founder of BioArt Laboratories), Willem Velthoven (founder and director of Mediamatic) and Koert van Mensvoort (philosopher, artist and creative director of Next Nature Network). Should new inventions be patented, or should they be open to everyone to experiment with? As moderator of the day, Ruben Baart, led the discussion concerning the more business-technical side of bio design.