A growing mass of craftspeople, designers, scientists, engineers and investors are proposing biodesign as a solution to many of the problems of unsustainable industries, from fashion to furniture design.
At its simplest, biodesign is the practice of incorporating natural processes into building or making, often by fermenting, cultivating or genetically engineering organisms such as bacteria, algae, yeast, fungi and proteins to grow materials and objects – think furniture made from fungi, yarns made from processed kelp, and genetically engineered spider silk.
It may sound like sci-fi, but biodesign is something humans have been doing for millennia, to leaven bread, make alcohol and pasteurise milk. But now, advances in genome editing allow us to manipulate DNA with precision – and biodesign has become a $13.4bn industry. Here are some of the pioneering makers working in the field today.