Master thesis - 20 weeks
2020 - Umeå Institute of Design


IDEO & Microbiological Department at Umeå University

Biology & Design

If you could trap a moment of a painful sorrow or a deep joy, in what form would you like to keep it? This project explores how designing with biology can allow new sets of affordances and ways of expressing and interacting with the artifacts. Hence to this idea, I’m exploring the concept of crystalizing tears and turning them into gold, both metaphorically and literally. Showcasing how a wearable made of living things could allow us more humane, poetic, and symbiotic relationships, compared to the transactional interactions we currently have with wearables based on computation.

Speed up for Equilibrium color changing process.

The project, Equilibrium, was designed in collaboration with a biologist, that uses a biochemical process between crystalized lysozyme, a protein present in human tears, and gold nanoparticles, embedded inside of a wearable. Once the components interacted with each other they created a feedback that is visible as colorization of a wearable, acting as a way to commemorate chapters in life. Beyond that, this thesis is opening a field of what could be possible in the context of designing with biology and biological matters, how we are going to use them, and what kind of relationship we could build, as we move from machines to organisms, from pixels to cells.

The overview of the wearable

Gold Nanoparticles growth in a frame of 40days
Gold nanoparticles growth in size and count from the first day of interaction with Lysozyme till the 90th day. At the bottom is the color spectrum of Gold nanoparticles depending on its size. Top graphs results research credits Wei, H., Wang, Z., Zhang, J.

At its core, my main desire is to show that Interaction designers must become material researchers, rather than inhabiting the realms of familiar mediums. And this is what this thesis is all about, and hopefully, it does not stop there.