Re-Cycling, Up-Cycling, Bio-Cycling?

Google "recycled furniture" and you get some weird experiments, most of them a play on the concept of recycling like this chair made of foliage; "Commissioned by the Design Museum for the Designers in Residence programme, Harvest is a reseach project using London's flowering foliage as a raw material for furniture production. Installed in the Design Museum Tank, Jan-March 2010, and at Sawaya & Moroni, Milan April 2010"

Huge thanks to the mighty fine brains of Tim and Peter, their comments to my last post are incredibly insightful and offer a lot for designers to chew on (yes I did throw a pun in there, sorry).

I want to hear some more design voices – so I thought I would begin to articulate how I am interpreting the information flow from a design perspective and see what bounces back. How can we reverse engineer these biological models into ambitious design ideas?

Nutrient Cycles in Nature

I have a very basic understanding of nutrient cycles, and I’m likely not the only designer out there with these limitations. We’ve all seen those simple diagrams showing water flowing through a landscape, or the how nitrogen, carbon or some other basic element moves through the different layers of an ecosystem. We’ve all heard of decomposers and their vital roles. But any discussion at a molecular level is usually pretty vague.

The more I am learning in this area, the more I realize how important these principles may be for designers.

Every Organism is a Recycling Plant

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Science Design Dialogue – Structural Colour

Structural colour is a new obsession of mine - the variety, complexity and simplicity of the mechanisms to create an incredible array of visual effects is astounding.

Looks like while I was away napping, Alena, Peter and Tim have gone ahead and started the first “Science Design Dialogue” around the topic of Structural Colour. There has been a lot of interest around this project, so I am looking forward to finding a way to weave all the different ideas together.

Starting with Structural Colour…

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Project: Science and Design Dialogues

Ok… Who’s in?

I’ve started putting together the structure for this new dialogue. I’m not happy with the design/layout yet, but those I’ve spoken to recommend just getting started and see how/if it takes off.

For anyone new to the idea, the project is:

To fuel deep dialogue about research, that includes a diverse array of voices, that opens science to a broader audience.

Visit this post for all the details.

Tim also made a note of it in his discussion here:

So far, one of the most exciting concepts to emerge out of Bouncing Ideas is the Science Design Dialogue. I’m excited about the idea for several reasons, one is that at the end of so many scientific papers (or even scientific news coverage) there is a two sentence rationale that points to possible directions for application or further research.

Now I need the designers!

I’ve had some great feedback from scientists, namely Peter and Tim, who are enthusiastic about getting involved. Now I need the design audiences who are curious to contribute and get this thing fired up. I’m looking for motivated people to sketch, write, postulate and debate the possibilities that could be opened up by the research in the various science papers.

Peter has offered an array of example papers that could be used, which I’ve reposted below, but I am especially curious to know what the design community would like to explore. This is a unique scenario where we have the scientists to help communicate and clarify the information, while the designers can help fuel a conversation around the implications of that research.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2010215/J.%20R.%20Soc.%20Interface-2009-Meadows-S107-13.pdf

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2010215/J.%20R.%20Soc.%20Interface-2010-Cadiou-S193-205.pdf

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2010215/J.%20R.%20Soc.%20Interface-2011-Harmer-457-71.pdf

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2010215/journal.pone.0011234.pdf

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2010215/PNAS-2011-Chiao-9148-53.pdf

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2010215/Reguera_G.pdf

Please leave a comment below if you’re interested and I’ll work out a way to invite you to the new “blog” – and we’ll find a way to get it started.

Looking forward to exploring the possibilities together.


Project: Science Design Dialogue

I might have got myself in trouble here…

A recent post stirred up some great conversation, and someone actually called me on an idea, and now I have to put my money where my mouth is. My question to the internet was;

“Is anyone interested in starting a dialogue around science with non-scientists?”

The answer was yes (thanks to Peter “Scelop” Nierowski and the mighty Tim McGee), and so now we have to think about setting this up.

Using this blog as the sounding board to get the initial discussion going, here is the game plan, and all you beautiful people out there, let me know what you think.

Here’s the the big goal:

To fuel deep dialogue about research, that includes a diverse array of voices, that opens science to a broader audience.

Here’s the elevator pitch:

A paper is selected for its scientific merit and opportunity. A group of motivated people start a free flowing dialogue that includes written discussions, questions, debates, hopes and dreams.

After a period of time, we call it quits and assemble some sort of review summarizing the discussion. It may be something like RSAnimate, or maybe a snippet of Design Fiction, or a paper that could be presented in a biomimicry conference. This could be a research project housed in a university, non-profit, or another model.

In the mean time a new dialogue would have begun around a different paper, and possibly an entirely new topic, for people to connect around.

The big hairy ambitious goal includes the possibility of this dialogue fuelling further research in different labs and institutions that might lead to some game changing insights and discoveries. Or to an incredible book discussing the implications of science in the broader community. At this point, who knows, the vision is broad, but emergent, and will respond to whatever brews up from the discussions.

Let’s do it – here comes the action plan!

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