Biofabricate Conference, New York

Victoria Geaney

“From the 15th-30th November, I was granted funding from the LDoc AHRC’s Student Development Fund (SDF) in order to attend the annual Biofabricate Conference, held this year at The New School: Parsons in New York. I am conducting a research-by-practice led PhD looking into growing biomaterials, biofabrication techniques and all in the context of fashion. Now in its third year, Biofabricate is the only design and material-centred symposium debating the issues surrounding the future of biological materials, as well as showcasing potential future developments utilising living systems in a commercial setting for industry, and thus an important platform to hear from the key speakers in this emerging field. Biofabricate is organised by Suzanne Lee, from New York based biofabrication company Modern Meadow, and included workshops and a Design Lab exhibiting a selection of materials fabricated from or inspired by yeast, bacteria, fungi and other biomaterials.

In the morning sessions, speakers such as Daisy Ginsberg, Amy Congdon, Tony Dunne and Christina Agapakis introduced work principally traversing the areas of synthetic biology and design, stimulating debate and discussion both on the panel and from the audience. The afternoon introduced some of the early adopters of biofabrication using living materials within their products and companies, such as Mother Dirt, BioMASON, Mycoworks and Spiber. The conference culminated in the launch of the new Adidas Futurecraft trainer, showcasing a spun fibre made in a fermentation process using genetically modified bacteria. The synthetic spider silk is made in collaboration with AMSilk, and shows real investment into the biomaterial sector by a large industry leader. The integration of bacteria and the material for the fashion and textile was directly addressed at this conference, making it most vital for my area of research.”