London LASER on Biodesign, 27 June, University of Westminster

London LASER 22

Tuesday 27 June 2017

6.30 – 9.00pm (registration from 6pm)

University of Westminster,

309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW


LASER: Talks on the intersection of art, science and technology

The event is free but please book at:


London LASER explores the relationship between biology and design. Professor and designer Carole Collet introduces key themes and concerns within current biodesign practice, followed by presentations from students and lecturers from three London arts universities who have participated in the Biodesign Challenge, from Central Saint Martins, University of Westminster and the Royal College of Art.


Carole Collet is a Professor and Director of the Design & Living Systems Lab at Central Saint Martins. Her research focuses on exploring the intersection of biology and design to develop speculative and disruptive sustainable design proposals. Collet operates within a long-term framework and her research targets the year 2050 and beyond. By anticipating future key socio-economic factors and technological timelines, she aims at impacting today’s design directions so as to enable a more resilient and sustainable future. Collet’s ambition is to elevate the status of design to become a powerful tool that contributes to developing innovative paths to achieve the ‘one planet lifestyle’.

Biodesign Challenge offers art and design students the opportunity to envision future applications of biotechnology in a competition highlighting innovation and interdisciplinary exploration. 24 international colleges have worked with biologists and designers to inspire and support creative responses to pertinent themes affecting our futures. In June 2017 selected projects are invited to New York City to present their designs to members of the academic, industrial, and design communities at the Biodesign Summit.

Teams of students from MA Material Futures and MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins have collaborated on projects exploring Biodesign and the Anthropocene. As evidence of the impact of human activities on geological forces increases, there is now a growing argument that we need to acknowledge the beginning of a new epoch. Climate change, deep pollution, ocean acidification, the sixth mass extinction of species are all issues resulting from our activities, having a profound impact on our future lives. Students explored how the intersection of design and biology could lead to new models, services or experiences that could help reduce our impact on the planet.

University of Westminster worked with multi-disciplinary undergraduate students enrolled on a cross-university elective Art/Science Collaboration module. This year the module team was excited to join the Biodesign Challenge as it offered students an amazing opportunity to tackle new challenges. Experimental projects include the design of underwear that changes colour in response to STDs and a new 3D printing material produced from hair and vegetable waste.

The Royal College of Art took food as a central focus, engaging students from across design, fashion, information experience, architecture and visual communication to work with scientists from Imperial College. Food was selected for its blurred borders between disciplines and fields, with food supply chains combining science, technology and culture. Participants interacted with the biological, physical and computer sciences to help understand the practicalities and innovations of the food supply chain, whilst contextualising cultural and economic factors. Students were encouraged to conceive of methods of collaboration between scientific, anthropological and design disciplines to produce a sustainable food future that supports the whole ecosystem we live in.

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