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Bio fabrication and Textiles: Reinventing Fibers and Fabric Manufacturing by Renata Grilo

Bio fabrication and Textiles: Reinventing Fibers and Fabric Manufacturing

Since humankind’s first handlooms, the weaving process of fibers has made an extensive leap thanks to R&D, which guarantees a safer, more durable and aesthetically pleasing fabrics.

The manufacturing process has been the same since prehistoric times when a spindle was used to create yarn from fibers and in 28000 BC the first sewing needle was in use in Kostenki, Russia. So many processes have been altered with best methods to not only save time and money, but also to maintain a line of production that could support today’s demand for the textile industry.

My interest however lies on the recent discoveries of bio fabrication through the usage of synthetic biology in order to create and literally grow cells through organisms, such as fungi, bacteria, yeast, algae and mammalian cells.

Thankfully at the moment the global interest on this subject has become such a ground breaking technology for many that tech companies, such as Microsoft, and large corporations are investing on making smarter decisions. By creating leather, for example, without the cruelty that many animals endure, or even cultivating bio organisms and cells to grow wearable protein-based materials, this immense opportunity leaves future generations the capacity to self sustain wearable fabrics.

Leading collaborators to this study, such as Biocouture

the very first bio creative design consultancy, works with leading scientists from all over the world. The crème de la crème are making history happen on a daily basis working with partners, such as Synbiobeta.

This design lab is just an incredible way to stay tuned into the latest artists and game changers of our time. Pioneers! Fearless minds.

Here are some of their latest works and future research:

Natsai Chieza:

Natsai holds an MA in Architectural Design from the University of Edinburgh (2009), and an MA in Textile Futures from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (2011), both cultivating a design practice with a strong sensibility in aesthetics and material research, and a great sensitivity to context.

Natsai has achieved measurable success in design research projects for Microsoft, Nissan, Unilever and EDF Energy. She has also exhibited in numerous design exhibitions and events across Europe, including the Victoria & Albert Muesum, London; Audax Textile Museum, Tilburg; Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano, Milan; Designersblock LDF, London; EN VIE/ ALIVE, Paris; Science Gallery, Dublin; and Heimtextil, Frankfurt.


Lead by Fiorenzo Omenetto, Professor of Biomedical Engineering who leads the laboratory for Ultrafast Nonlinear Optics and Biophotonics at Tufts University

As well as the Department of Physics, specialized in nanostructures materials. A pioneer on the usage of silk as a material platform for photonics, optoelectronics and high-technology applications, is co-inventor on over 70 disclosures (published and unpublished) on the subject, and is actively investigating novel applications.

Amy Congdon

A brilliant designer who examines the integration between textile craft and tissue engineering through a highly experimental and research driven practice. Using speculative design work she investigates the implications of engaging with new technologies, such as biotechnology.

Phil Ross

Biochemist whose work includes live cultures, experiments with growing fungal building materials, and founding and directing CRITTER- a salon for the natural sciences. His mushroom building block made of fungi growth are phenomenal and worth mentioning. Eco friendly and incredibly functional!

Blond & Bieber

Essi Johanna Glomb and Rasa Weber are Blond & Bieber, a Berlin-based design studio.

Blond & Bieber is a cooperation, which meets on the border between textile- and product design. By means of concept, experiment and a strong visual approach the duo (though educated as product-developers) would always choose for a narrative approach to design over a purely practical understanding of production.

A beautiful approach in colors and fabric.

Next Nature

One of my favorite projects is the Knitted Meat.

Rather than growing whole steaks in bio-reactors, Knitted Meat assumes that it is more feasible to create thin threads of protein. Supermarkets sell balls of meat fiber seasoned with various spices and vegetable flavors. New kitchen appliances enable consumers to weave meat according to preset preferences. Texture, taste and tenderness can be controlled to create a personal, multisensory eating experience. Groups of diners can even knit their own sections of a protein scarf, enabling multiple people to share a unique moment.

Sylvia Saborio

Graduated from Parsons the New School for Design majored in Communication Design, Sylvia Saborio has many insightful and interesting projects, her painting with growing bacteria stands out, utilizing genetically modified bacteria, engineered to pageant an array of distinct color, and string away from traditional printing techniques.

Erin Smith

Erin Smith’s Growable Gown is an elegant take on using wearable plant matter to create wedding dresses. Made of a mix of tree mulch inoculated with mycelium (microscopic mushrooms), these living sheets of fabric can create a new dress in literally a week. Smith explains that since most brides buy a wedding dress only to wear it once in their lifetime and lock it away in a closet for the next 60 years, why not buy one that’s biodegradable? On top of helping to reduce the amount of linen waste in the world, Smith says growable clothes are also fairly easy to make requiring only a short time to grow, mold into shape, and then bake to stop the fungus from growing.

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