Emma van der Leest

A product designer with great interest in the field of biofabrication.

As a biodesigner, Emma collaborates with different disciplines, including scientists, physicists, artists and designers. Biodesign, which is based on the principles of biofabrication, is a field that emerged out of regenerative medicine technologies. Biodesign incorporates living organisms e.g. bacteria, fungi, algae or cells into the design process. By discovering materials and processes, that nature has designed but hasn’t patented, we can search for new materials that are grown completely compostable and minimize the use of hazardous resources that cause huge damage to our ecosystem.

Through her strong design, Emma has a compelling story. Trained as a product designer Emma completed her undergraduate degree in Product Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 2015 (cum laude). She creates crossovers with craft, scientific research and new production techniques. Emma is trying to create an environment where boundaries dissolve, where different disciplines can benefit and learn from others.

Emma interned at Biocouture London, the world’s first bio creative consultancy, and is product associate of the annual Biofabricate conference in New York, an initiative from Suzanne Lee, founder of Biocouture.

Emma holds a research position in ‘New Material Practices’ at Willem de Kooning Academy and is lector ‘Growing Cultures’ at Ecology Futures Master program at Avans University. Previously she also taught at Central Saint Martins in London and the Design Academy in Eindhoven. This year she is guest curator for the Dutch Innovation Pavilion for the Floriade and one of the ‘brains’ at the new science program of the VPRO, Anna’s Brains.

Emma is also the founder and creative director of the BlueCity Lab, a laboratory where she opens up a wet and drylab for anyone who wants to research and develop new materials, from bacteria to waste streams following Blue Economy Principles. BlueCity Lab is located in the former Tropicana swimming pool in Rotterdam.