SymbioticA Residency :  Biological Bespoke


Working in the lab; passaging cells


This short video shows a microscope camera recording as it moves through a sectioned piece of hand crocheted suture thread which has had hBMSc cells grown on it. The cells were fixed on the scaffold, the crochet was then sectioned on a microtome, attached to a glass microscope slide and finally dyed with Haematoxylin stain to show up the cell nuclei.

With special thanks to; Dr Stuart Hodgetts, Mary Lee, Oron Catts & Dr Ionat Zurr.

Extract, grow, nuture, stitch, construct ... design?

Different textile techniques and structures are used because of their ability to mimic natural structures found within the human body; from completely embroidered pieces having being used in reconstructive medical implants to knitted heart bags that help with degenerative heart problems.  Using previous research knoweldge and skills the aim of my research project at SymbioticA was to experiment with techniques of growing skin cells onto textile scaffolds, looking at fully integrating textiles and the body.

Bespoke is often considered the height of luxury, with pieces being individually made for a client.  What if in the future we were able to have biological bespoke pieces made, would we want them, what form would they take and most importantly should we be allowed to have them?  Designers will have increasingly important roles to play, not only in their designs but also in their choices of materials.  Removed from their source do cells become the ultimate commodity?

The aim of this period of research at SymbioticA was to explore the idea of bespoke biological textiles, by beginning to engage with making them.  Could I apply my textile/ design sampling process to the lab?  How would my practice and ideas change as I worked with life as a material source?  The ultimate goal of this process was not to arrive at a finished piece, or even any firm conclusions, but to question and explore.

3 month research residency carried out at SymbioticA, based at the University of Western Australia.