sustainability, future craft, natural resources, bio materials, material futures

BC universal

Lena Ganswindt
MA Graduation Project
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Zane Berzina, Prof. Dr. Lucy Norris

Bacterial cellulose (BC) is a natural material that is synthesized by living organisms. It can be produced independently of the industry within a circular process and with conventional ingredients. Therefore, designers can manipulate the material and its material development process. However, the living organisms influence the process to a certain extent and thereby do not make it completely controllable. With the question “How do we work with living materials as collaborators in the design process?”, it was examined to what extent the handling of a living material or a material made of living organisms differs from that of conventional materials. In addition, an exchange with designers, artists and people who also deal with bacterial cellulose took place.

Two different directions were followed in the project. On the one hand, an experimental materials research was conducted to investigate BC and its incomparable properties. Manipulation was performed in the areas of formulation, dyeing, shaping, scaling, composite formation and application-oriented prototyping. During the course of this work, the designer slips into the role of material researcher, material manufacturer and material designer. In this way, the usual design tools are initially set aside and instead pH, temperature and humidity parameters are determined. 

BC can also be seen as a medium to enter a dialogue with society about growing materials aiming to find out to what extent our previous awareness and understanding of materials and materiality is changing. Such a dialogue is not only triggered by the dried, leathery BC, but only together with its circular material development process. In doing so, it is not regarded as a material but as a process and thus offers a wide field of associations and conveys understanding for the development of materials.