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Growing and bio-fabricating SCOBY: a project developed in an extended cross-disciplinary research team


Bissember, A and Hindrum, S and Hornblow, M and Kilah, N and Power, J and Thickett, S and Yong, A, Growing and bio-fabricating SCOBY: a project developed in an extended cross-disciplinary research team, Proceedings of the 1st Annual Design Research Conference (ADR18), 27-28 September 2018, University of Sydney, pp. 581-595. ISBN 978-0-646-99249-5 (2018) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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Copyright 2018 The University of Sydney and the author

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This paper will explore recent collaborative design research into Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY), also known as Kombucha. This material is being utilised by both product and fashion designers working within the field of bio-design. Suzanne Lee's BioCouture SCOBY garments are well known examples of SCOBY used in an experimental fashion context. However, up until now upscaling of SCOBY and the challenges of working with it as an architectural medium, both structural and expressive, have not been investigated.

In this research, the architectural possibilities of this biodegradable leather-like material have been investigated - supported by three separate, yet related, projects: a team-teaching development grant that brought together chemistry and architecture/design, research undertaken by a student in a Deans Summer Research Scholarship programme, and other students in an Advanced Design Research unit. In this paper, the collaborative cross-disciplinary process will be outlined, including the challenges encountered and the SCOBY outcomes produced. The process of up-scaling the growing process will also be described. To facilitate this up-scaling of the growing process, large 'farms' were constructed - the largest 2.4m x 1.2m. This process extended the dialogue beyond the initial team to include the knowledge and expertise of a SCOBY artist.

The next stage of the research and investigation involved students exploring the bio-fabrication possibilities of the material. SCOBY presents unique challenges for fabrication. It has variable moisture content, lacks self-supporting structural integrity and is a living material. The 3D-printability of SCOBY was piloted; and subsequently, through further student research development, techniques of folding and creasing tested. This multi-dimensional project, with its various outputs and investigations, represents a collaborative, cross-disciplinary material investigation that seeks to operate at the porous edges of disciplines, technologies and design paradigms.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:SCOBY, biofabrication, biodesign, multidisciplinary
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Design
Research Field:Interaction and experience design
Objective Division:Manufacturing
Objective Group:Environmentally sustainable manufacturing activities
Objective Field:Environmentally sustainable manufacturing activities not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bissember, A (Associate Professor Alex Bissember)
UTAS Author:Hindrum, S (Mrs Sonja Hindrum)
UTAS Author:Hornblow, M (Dr Michael Hornblow)
UTAS Author:Kilah, N (Dr Nathan Kilah)
UTAS Author:Power, J (Dr Jacqueline Power)
UTAS Author:Thickett, S (Dr Stuart Thickett)
UTAS Author:Yong, A (Mr Aaron Yong)
ID Code:128578
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2018-10-01
Last Modified:2019-03-20
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