Special Topics in Design | Media Arts: Biotechnology and Design

Bio-designers use cells, DNA molecules, proteins, and living tissues to highlight ethical, social, and aesthetic issues that influence contemporary life. Introduction to how bio-design blurs distinctions between science and design through combination of design and scientific processes, creating wide public debate. Introduction to new sciences that influence food we eat, clothes we wear, and environment in which we reside. Students challenged to think outside the box, explore divergent and convergent thinking, and seek out knowledge and inspiration from ideas that drive nano- and bio-technology. Peer collaboration encouraged to develop speculative design projects that address issues covered.
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Please contact Prof. Victoria Vesna if you are interested in joining this class.


Bread Making + GMOs

Bread making + GMOs


In this blog I will be covering the process of my first time making bread. The ingredients I used are as follows: bread flour, dry active yeast, brown sugar, and water. I chose to not use salt because I planned to dress the bread with salted butter. 


Kombucha and SCOBY Leather BioCouture

I started making kombucha! I ended up using one green tea bag and one black tea, but the color seemed to take on the normal black tea brown shade. I used a glass jar after reading that metal and plastic containers might interfere with the process. The SCOBY looked really strange pouring it into the tea and was very slimy. My cousins made their own kombucha once, and it exploded on them, so I read online to not put a sealed lid on the jar.

First time making bread + Hunger

This week, we watched videos showing the traditional way of making bread. I have never baked one myself but my mom used to bake Hong Kong-style sausage buns, which is similar to hot dogs, for me and my younger sister for breakfast when I was in high school. I guess it’s more a Hong Kong local thing. Therefore, I was very curious about how my bread would turn out during the class.

Deforestation and Pencils

After last week's lecture, I learned a lot of surprising facts about pencils; a seemingly insignificant object from my daily life that turns out to have a rich history. When we were told that we would never view pencils the same way ever again I was skeptical at first but quickly came to understand. The sheer number of resources that are collected annually to make this little writing utensil is beyond my imagination. In class I learned that 8 million trees are cut down per year.

My Childhood

I enjoy watching "How It's Made" videos so I thought the video about pencil production was very interesting. I did feel bad a couple of times throughout the lecture since I was really wasteful as a kid. I remember snapping pencils in half so it would become really small and then sharpening it until it was sharp enough to stab someone. I really liked the sharpened grooves on IKEA's pencils so I remember I would grab them all and stuff them in my mom's bag.

Hexagons and Basalt in Nature

I was genuinely shocked to discover in class that nature favors hexagonal patterns. Now, after having looked through examples and discussing, it makes a lot of sense and I’m surprised I never gave it much thought before. From honeycombs to turtle shells, hexagons naturally appear quite often. The article “Patterns in Nature: The Efficiency of Hexagons” explains how hexagon arrays save space (Nature Backin).


I am building a mesh network inspired by networks and swarm behaviours. When we think about swarms, we typically visualize flocking behaviours of birds and insects. They move as individual autonomous entities, but work and act together to accomplish common goals.

There are many mathematical models to simulate this phenomenon, producing complex group behaviours and patterns with simple sets of prescribed rules to individual agents:

  1. Separation

Final Project Update

During the week, Sebastian and I met through the Zoom meeting to work on the collaboration. We have the same theme for reducing plastic wastes but include two different subtopics. For Sebastian, he will focus on "Reshaping beauty" by creating the make-up product like a concealer without harmful chemical substances. My presentation will be focused on designing the package of the concealer without using the plastic. 

Update on Final Project

Over this past week, Sung and I have decided to collaborate under the unifying theme of "Targeting Plastic Pollution". After speaking over Zoom, we have concluded that we will introduce our combined projects with a title slide representing this universal theme and then individually delve into our respective proposals on how we each in our own unique way intend to achieve such goals, myself through the use of mycelium packaging and Sung with remaking plastic waste into household items. 


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