Since we are gradually running out of natural resources such as clean water, cotton and silk, a lot of designers have been working with scientists to innovate some form of technology that could either self-replicate the resource, or a creation that could essentially replace the resource itself.
In 2010, Dr Kaplan and his team managed to develop a spider silk protein with the bacteria e.coli by decoding and reprogramming the bacteria. The scientists are hoping to produce genetically modified plants that produces spider-based silk, which could be harvest like cotton. This would eventually replace silk, the team is working towards engineering artificial spider glands that work like real spider glands.
Since the bacteria and the plants will be programmed, the product could be a lot more controllable and particular, they could essentially customise different function for different brands.
Dr Kaplan and his team attempted to reprogram e.coli without using harsh chemicals and without generating any toxic, however it was not successful until in 2010 when they did eventually started using what is seen as the unethical. There has been some voices who are against the development, considering the current ecological crisis, however this is when we have to choose between whether to be unethical or to loss a natural resource. This has left me wondering, will all natural resources be replaced by programmable coded products? Including our necessity such as clean water, and oxygen even. Will our world gradually become a huge factory/ playground for scientists? And if that happens, will we, (i.e. the scientists) be in total control?
This blog has been a helpful for me to recall and secure memories from each week’s lecture/ workshop. Through out the weeks, I have learnt about different aspects of innovative materials, from the beginning of learning about raw materials, which allows me to think about sustainable designs and products from the very first step as a designer and consumer. Then we learnt about biomimicry where we use nature as a model to design inventions to solve existing problems. We also looked at speculative design and human-centred design, which are two different ways of designing for our future. I find the 4 design steps for human- centred design extremely useful, especially having a persona throughout the design process made it a lot more specific and precise.
Overall, I enjoyed the lectures and workshops. I think I have learnt a lot about both sustainable and innovative designs, through completing the tasks, I also had plenty of opportunities to research before analysing them critically. The design steps and researching skills are techniques that I have learnt from this expanded practise and will get to put to practise again and again in the future. I also find the workshop on human-centred design on our last meeting was especially fun, it was my favourite meeting out of the all. I especially loved the two examples I found for the speculative design, although they are not necessarily textiles related, both ideas are so innovative without being very science- based.
I really love the idea of the Light Showers, which embraces the unwanted discharge and turning it into such a beautiful installation. A lot of people nowadays have a lot of misunderstandings towards discharges and waste, which is understandable, but everyone needs to stop being to repellent and be more open-minded towards them, because we can find ways to beautify them. Just because we don’t the landfills and waste does not mean they don’t exist.
Parts where I found difficult was the beginning of the expand practise, as I had a different expectation to what it really was, I was not expecting there to be any scientific elements to it. I thought it would be more focused on materials that are innovated, i.e. more textiles based, but there was a lot more to it than just learning about new materials. As I eventually became more comfortable with the unit, I learnt to enjoy it more.
On the other hand, I was pleased with how committed I was to attending and completing all the lectures and tasks every week. Since I did not have a lot of knowledge to innovative materials before attending the expanded practise, it was a bit difficult sometimes to be 100% committed, especially when some of the lectures focused on the scientific research, which has happened once or twice. But I made it through with commitment and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Surprisingly, I also quite enjoyed completing the tasks, although they were very time-consuming, a lot of them were quite fun and I gained a lot of knowledge through researching.