Bioplastic Fantastic is a speculative project by Johanna Schmeer, an artist acting on the border between art and design. Seven products presented by her complement the demand for nutrients and energy needed for humans to survive. Enzyme-enhanced bioplastics, powered by artificial photosynthesis, serve as the building blocks for the final product. Where did the idea of this futuristic project come from?
Everything started with research in three areas, the scientific background, analysis of how values and diverse circumstances in society shape technological products, and aesthetics / material study. Help from scientific advisors at Imperial College’s Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation allowed a broad exploration of synthetic biology, material science, and artificial photosynthesis topics. The project included workshops under the “designing biology” slogan. Interactions with the product based on a fictional scenario became a contribution to the formation of the final product.
Johanna Schmeer used the potential that lies in interactive design, which is becoming ever closer to the body and biology. It is more than likely that, soon, biochemical processes will take place in and on our technological devices. The concept of something halfway between a product and an organism is based on recent scientific research results of “biological” cells made from polymers and enzymes. Bioplastic Fantastic explores interactions which might emerge from the mix of material innovations with biology and nanotechnology. The designer investigates the topic of future design of domestic products made from enzyme-enhanced bioplastics.
Seven “biological devices” are used to produce food and energy needed for human survival, thanks to artificial photosynthesis. Products that simply need to be exposed to light to produce water, vitamins, fibre, sugar, fat protein, and minerals through biological processes.
The idea of a self-sufficient lifestyle which the designer proposes is a kind of conceptual utopia designed in opposition to the technocratic Silicon Valley lifestyle model. The biologically influenced aesthetics of this project reinforces the core idea that they are not machine-like or lab-like. Artificial sensuality, powered by biology, is the answer for the loss of the natural sensuality of traditional food.
The project asks the big question, to provoke discussion of a future design that is reaching forward to the more sensual and human solutions, perversely by using the latest scientific breakthroughs in bio- and nanotechnology, that don’t fulfil the ice-cold technocratic vision.
A designer by education and a trend watcher by calling. Head of Trends at Pop Up Grupa creative collective based in Warsaw. Author of No.1 Polish blog dedicated to emerging trends in fashion and design. Agnieszka Polkowska is also a doctoral student of Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk in the domain of experimental design and trends. This is also the field to which she dedicates her scientific work. Since she’s both a recipient and designer, she feels that her experience makes her a right person to share reliable analyses with the world.