LABS meetup #3

How can we design interiors as ecosystems?

Our interiors predominantly consist of an invisible, but very essential ‘mass’: air. As several studies from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) show, the air quality of the built environment is one of today’s crucial challenges, and poor air quality can become a threat to our health. 

Through our research project Living Aero Bacterial Systems (LABS): Future Interiors we aim to make our indoor climate healthier and more sustainable by translating natural systems and their relationships into architectural elements that function in symbiosis with the users. The developed bacteria grown textiles – KOMBUTEX – act as 100% biodegradable interior elements and as a substrate for vegetation. KOMBUTEX has the power to make our future interiors grow and evolve as alive, regenerative, and interactive spaces.

The last meetup in the series took place online and was organised as part of the public programme of the Embassy of Health at the Dutch Design Week, contributing to the theme of Urban Transformations and the creation of healthy environments. During this talk, Samira Boon and Raoul Frese presented the pilot interior product “KOMBUquet”. By engaging in a discussion with architects and industry professionals, we started to formulate future scenarios for uptake of the material in real projects.



Raoul Freze is Assistant Professor Biophysics; Director of Hybrid Forms ArtScience media lab at VU Amsterdam. Area of research: applied photosynthesis, biomaterials for biosensors and biosolar cells, biophysics of biomembranes, artscience. Expertise: biophysics, natural, hybrid & artificial photosynthesis, bio-nanotechnology. Research and development: natural, hybrid and artificial photosynthesis based solar cells, design driven research, art science collaborations. Techniques: single-molecule spectroscopy and microscopy, atomic force microscopy, electrochemistry, light spectroscopy.

Studio Samira Boon is a textile architecture studio based in Amsterdam and Tokyo with a strong focus on creating flexible and dynamic environments. As an expert in the material properties of textiles, Studio Samira Boon advises and collaborates with architects to formulate site-specific solutions. The studio was founded in Japan and combines the adaptive and sensory qualities of materials with research into state-of-the-art computerized production techniques. Recent works include the 3D woven SUPERFOLDS and ARCHI FOLDS: two innovative series of textile structures, which bring together technique, science and art. For ARCHI FOLDS the studio collaborated with Tokyo University and the Dutch TextielLab to combine traditional origami techniques with computerized textile folding possibilities.

Ren Yee is the Head of Innovation Strategy and Forecasting at UNSense of UNStudio. UNStudio, founded in 1988 by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, is an international architectural design network with four full-service international offices in Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. We specialise in architecture, interior architecture, product design, urban development and infrastructural projects.

Edwin Gardner is one of the founders of Monnik. Monnik is a ‘creative studio for futures and fiction’. The studio looks into the cultural, socio-economic and technological powers that shape our world and our representation of it, and extrapolates these to various futures. Edwin specializes in technological developments and the way they affect society, from spatial planning to social engineering.

Jeroen Junte is a freelance journalist/curator/moderator in design and architecture. He is the initiator of DesignDigger, an on- and offline platform for Dutch design with a website, podcasts and regular talk shows. He writes for the national newspaper de Volkskrant and international magazines such as Frame and DAMn. He also writes books; his most recent publication is Do It Ourselves. A New Mentality in Dutch design (nai 010 publishers), the first overview of a post-crisis generation of designers. In addition, he curates exhibitions, such as LUXE? in the Cube designmuseum. As a much sought-after speaker, moderator and chairman of the day, he was a guest at prestigious events such as the See Conference (Germany) and What Design Can Do in Amsterdam.

About LABS

The research project ‘Living Aero Bacterial Systems’ (LABS) by Studio Samira Boon, the HybridFormsLab by Raoul Frese / Biophysics of Photosynthesis VU Amsterdam and Waag Society, develops a new material to improve our interiors with natural processes: a kombucha-based textile that enhances the air quality by integrating mosses and green plants. The resulting material can be applied in acoustic and wall panels.

With LABS, we take a step towards the living interiors of the future. We envision that our future ecosystems will be fruitful interaction between users, technology and microorganisms. This is a paradigm shift in the traditional design process. Through the development of innovative materials and applications, LABS aims to demonstrate the opportunities of this paradigm shift to potential clients, policymakers, and fellow researchers/designers. The project is supported by the Grant Programme Architecture of the Creative Industries Fund NL.