Alive, New Design Frontiers

| project type |



| project synopsis |

Alive, New Design Frontiers / En vie, aux frontieres du design, Espace EDF Foundation, Paris, April-September 2013. The first international design exhibition dedicated to explore how the interface of biology and design could be leading the path to new sustainable paradigms.

Curator: Carole Collet, Professor in Design For Sustainable Futures, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London

Objective: To reveal and question a new design landscape, where fragments of a possible programmable ‘synthetic’ future are confronted with ‘natural’ alternative design perspectives.

The project:

The seminal exhibition En Vie / Alive was commissioned and presented at the Espace EDF Foundation to cast light on the quest for different ecological design models in our increasingly bioengineered world.

For the first time, it gathered under one roof the work of leading designers, architects and artists driven by nature and biological science, whose thinking ranges from potential sustainable solutions, to poetic interpretations and extreme provocations.

The 34 featured projects created and unravelled a future hybrid world, where our everyday products and manufacturing tools would be ‘alive’: plants would grow products, and bacteria would be genetically re-programmed to ‘biofacture’ new materials, artefacts, energy or medicine.

In order to reflect this new hierarchy of relationships with nature , the exhibition was organised around 5 sections

“The Plagiarists” (Nature as a model) presented the work of designers and architects who adopt biomimicry principles, imitating processes or behaviours found in the natural world, but working with man-made and digital technologies.

“The New Artisans” (Nature as a co-worker) focused on designers and architects who collaborate with nature, working with bees, fungi, bacteria, algae or plants and developing new techniques to grow and craft consumer goods.

“The Bio-Hackers” (Reprogrammed, ‘synthetic’ nature”) explored what the products and interfaces of the future could become with the use of engineered living organisms, illustrating the work of designers and artists who collaborate with synthetic biologists or respond to cutting-edge scientific research in the field of extreme bioengineering.

“The New Alchemists” (Hybridised nature) featured designers, architects and artists who propose the merging of biology, chemistry, robotics and nanotechnology to create new hybrid organisms, combining living (biological) with non-living (electronic and chemical) technology.

“The Agents Provocateurs” (Conceptualised and imagined nature) encouraged a debate around ethical issues related to living technology and high-tech sustainability, presenting artists and designers who explore a provocative far future.

“I sincerely hope that this exhibition will inspire generations to come and help establish a map of creative thinkers who dare to imagine new relationships with nature and the living. This project highlights the search for new design frontiers in the quest for new ecological models pertinent for the year 2050 and beyond.”

Prof Carole Collet, Exhibition Curator and catalogue editor, March 2013

see for full content and visual documentation.

| project outputs |

Exhibition with 34 exhibits including 6 commissions:

Radiant Soil by Philip Beesley, The Rise by CITA, The Biocouture Shoe by Suzanne Lee with Liz Ciokajlo-Squire,Aaron Lampert Thomas Makryniotis, Seasons of the Void by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Sascha Pohflepp, Andrew Stellitano, Hortus:Paris by EcoLogic Studio, Botanical Fabrication by ENSCI Les Ateliers & Central Saint Martins)




| project team |

Exhibtion production: EDF Foundation

Curator: Carole Collet, Central Saint Martins UAL

Exhibtion design: Jean-Sebastien Lagrnge & Madeleine Montaigne

Exhibtion graphic design: Cheval Vert

Visual identity: Method

Web design: Method

Catalogue production: FranklinTill

Catalogue graphic design: Laura Gordon


| With thanks to |
  • The EDF Foundation
  • Centre culturel canadien Paris
  • Government of Canada
  • Method
  • Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London
  • all the volunteers who helped set up the exhibition