Biodesigner Amy Congdon envisions a future where biotechnology is essential in all aspects of our lives, from regenerating organs to fashion.
Amy Congdon is a designer based in London that uses her art to explore the implications of biotech. In particular, most of her work revolves around the intersection of two fields that might seem utterly unrelated: medicine and fashion.
Amy is currently collaborating with Prof. Di Silvio in King’s College London, where she’s learning the ins and outs of tissue engineering. This growing field aims at growing and regenerating tissues and organs. To do so, scientists often require scaffolds for the cells to attach and grow in, and that’s where Amy’s current project ‘Tissue Engineered Textiles‘ comes in.
In this project, the bioartist is seeding living cells into multiple materials. Some are specifically created for cell seeding, while others, like freshwater pearls or Swarovski crystals, have never been used before.
The ultimate goal is to study how cells grow and behave in different materials. Although it is known that the properties and nanoscale architecture of materials greatly influence the behavior of cells in culture, scientists are still discerning the specifics of how and why.
The project could provide a valuable insight into the use of materials to control the growth of tissues and organs in the lab. However, Amy is not stopping there. Her work also explores how the cells she grows in the lab could be part of future fashion.
Back in 2014, the biodesigner exhibited a unique collection of jewelry titled ‘Haute Bacon‘. As its name hints at, the pieces were created using actual bacon. The popular snack had been decellularized to eliminate the cells and obtain a material created by tiny living beings.
Other projects part of her ‘Biological Atelier‘ series envision a future, in 2082, where ivory bracelets are ethically grown and scientists work together with designers to create and grow the fashion of the future. In fact, this scenario could not be so far away. The startup Pembient is already using biotechnology to fabricate rhino horns and elephant ivory with the aim of replacing illegal trade.
Amy’s unique approach to technology has led big companies to host her work in the past. In ‘Grow your own‘, she imagined that by 2089 car parts from Nissan could be grown using synthetic biology. ‘Human conectivity‘, presented at Microsoft’s Design Expo showed textile interfaces that could transform data into body signals mimicking physical interactions.
Through years of work, Amy Congdon has repeatedly highlighted how important biotech will be in the coming years. From life-saving medical procedures to everyday commodities, the technology of the future will very likely rely on the huge possibilities that living beings offer.
All images by Amy Congdon