Symposium Book now

Design with the Living

Join this one-day symposium asking how designing with living organisms can respond to the current ecological crisis.

What to expect

'You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.'- Buckminster Fuller

Can designing with living organisms be the change we need in the current ecological crisis?

In the context of climate and ecological emergency, this symposium argues that design can be a powerful agent for change in building an alternative sustainable model. When collaborating with living organisms such as algae, mycelium and microbes, designers are exploring new ways to shape and form our material world in ways that are respectful of our planetary boundaries. In this symposium, we are interested in exploring how this area of practice needs to continue to evolve to meet these above challenges.

As the practice of ‘designing with biology expands, this symposium aims to provide a space to pause and critically interrogate the practices of ‘designing with and for living systems’ through the following questions:

• What are the tools, methods and limitations for these design practices?

• How do we observe, understand and interact with living organisms to design alternative materials and systems?

• How do we scale-up academic and grass-roots work in this field to become impactful on a global scale?

• Does working with the living impose a new form of aesthetic?

• What safe-guards, ethics and policies are needed to guide these emerging practices?

Full programme to be announced.

bioMATTERS Series 001 | Credit Agmented Architectures 2019

Carole Collet - Mycelium Textiles 2019 - slow-grown embroidery | Credit ©IMMATTERS

Carole Collet - self patterning rubber mycelium

Carole Collet - slow grown embroidery effect 1 | Credit ©IMMATTERS

Carole Collet—Mycelium Textiles Lace Assembly Trimmings | Credit ©IMMATTERS

Carole Collet—Mycelium Textiles Lace Assembly Trimmings | Credit ©IMMATTERS

Geotropic textiles set up | Credit ©IMMATTERS

Helene Steiner

Helene Steiner

Helene Steiner

Carole Collet - mycelium textiles

Carole Collet - tie-grow - part of the mycelium textiles series

Carole Collet - tie-grow - part of the mycelium textiles series

Carole Collet - tie-grow - part of the mycelium textiles series

Booking information

Adult - £25
Member - £20
Student - £15


Dr Brenda Parker

Dr Brenda Parker is a Lecturer in Sustainable Bioprocess Design at the Department of Biochemical Engineering, UCL and Co-Director of Bio-Integrated Design / Bio-ID. Her doctoral work is in directed enzyme evolution for green chemistry and her postdoctoral studies led her to working on microalgal biorefineries.

Prof Marcos Cruz

Prof Marcos Cruz is an Architect and Professor of Innovative Environments at The Bartlett and Co-Director of Bio-ID. His current research investigates design that is driven by advances in materials, bio-technology and computation, fields that are radically reshaping the practice of architecture.

Prof Carole Collet

Prof Carole Collet has dedicated her career to developing a new vision for sustainable design and pioneered the discipline of Textile Futures in 2000. She is the CSM LVMH Director of Sustainable Innovation at Central Saint Martins UAL, as well as Director of the Design & Living Systems Lab, a programme exploring the interface of the biological sciences and design.

Helene Steiner

Helene Steiner is a designer and engineer who works at the interface between technology and science. She co-founded Open Cell with the mission to provide affordable lab space to early stage startups innovating at the intersection of design and biology.

Related exhibition

Beazley Designs of the Year

Discover the most innovative designs across fashion, architecture, digital, transport, product and graphic design from the past 12 months, as nominated by design experts from around the world.

Background image | Carole Collet - botanical fur 2019 - furry root studies 2.