Listen to The Growcast

January 26th , 2021

In The Growcast, biodesigner Emma van der Leest and program maker Barbara Vos, interview eight Rotterdam based pioneering biodesigners – our so called bioneers – about what the future can look like if we design with nature as our guideline. In 8 episodes we’ll take you on a journey through biodesign: if we designed the new economy with living organisms, could it be the change we need for today’s current and future environmental and ecological challenges?

A lamp that generates its electrical supply via photosynthesis, natural textile dyeing with mini bacteria factories, mycelium grown urns and algae as a superfood: these are just a few examples of what our bioneers are working on. Join the biorevolution and listen to The Growcast: available on Spotify, Google podcasts, Apple podcasts and more from 27 November 2020.


Each episode welcomes a frontrunner whose work will radically change everything we think we know, an aspiring biodesigner who wants to challenge the status quo or a scientist.

Ep. 01 with Ermi van Oers,  founder of Nova Innova, a Rotterdam based creative studio.

Ermi founded Nova Innova, a creative studio which combines nature, science and design to create sustainable applications. In 2017, she graduated from Willem de Kooning Academy with the project Living Light, which is a lamp that works on photosynthesis of a plant as an energy source. She’s now working on the first floating network in the world which will harvest its energy from organic compounds in the water. This project was showcased at the Water Pavilion at the Dutch Design Week. 

Ep. 02 with Anna Alessia Viggiano, chemist turned designer and winner of the Circular Challenge 2019

Anna trained herself to be a creative professional who can contribute to a regenerative city. She designed solar cells that use the coloring agent of red cabbage and has joined BlueCity Lab to develop her prototypes.

Ep. 03 with Tim van Koolwijk and Dr. Brent Jackson from Spireaux

Spireaux produces fresh spirulina paste, a healthy, vegan and sustainable ingredient used to fortify a wide variety of existing food products. Made from seaweed, their fresh spirulina contains essential amino acids, food fibres, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Spireaux has recently developed led-based photobioreactors in order to produce the spirulina paste in and near urban environments for a fraction of the ecological cost of other protein sources, allowing its production in regions presenting unsuitable climate conditions.

Ep. 04 with Lisa Jongejans, biodesigner and founder of Studio Lisa Jongejans.

Lisa Jongejans is fascinated by death and what happens to our bodies after we die – and especially in what we leave behind. She designs mycelium urns and is currently undergoing a coaching program to start her own business. She is one of the pioneers in BlueCity Lab and wants to collaborate with funeral directors and other partners to bring her bio circular solution to the market.

Ep. 05 with Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar from Living Colour

Fashion designer Ilfa Siebenhaar and textile and surface designer Laura Luchtman are both located in the fashion hub ‘De Wasserij’, in Rotterdam. Ilfa is specialized in fashion design and does research in biodesign with the main focus on how to innovate the design processes and the impact it has on the environment. Laura’s work is focused on experimental colour and material research. Together they started Living Colour, a sustainable alternative to artificial textile dyes. With their work they bridge the gap between design and science and establish a new natural colour aesthetic. They advocate for positive change and by doing so prepare the market for a future where clothes and textiles are dyed by bacteria. Joining this conversation is special guest and researcher Barbara Schrammeijer.

Ep. 06 with Eduarda Bastian, textile researcher

Eduarda works as an independent textile researcher and is a participant at the MA coursre Practice Held in Common at ArEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem. Her work focuses on textiles and fibers, exploring different plant materials and our relationship with them. She crowdfunded her project to research hop plant fibers for a local textile production.

Ep. 07 with Nico Bouchard, creative centipede and biohacker

Creative centipede Nico moved from the US to NL to make a change as an artist and teacher to visualize the science side of things. Nico volunteered in one of America’s first community biolabs, BioCurious in California, but he wanted to challenge himself and contribute more to regenerative cities. He is currently learning to apply various manufacturing techniques in his studies and he uses the biolab of BlueCity Lab to test his concepts, such as mycelium-grown models made from cardboard waste.

Ep. 08 with Emma van der Leest, biodesigner and founder of BlueCity Lab

Emma has been inspired by microorganisms for a long time and uses them as the basis for her design. From a ‘Microbial Vending Machine’ that contains collectible organisms that can produce food, medicine, materials and cosmetics to a 100% natural water-repellent coating derived from mushrooms. She is also the founder of BlueCity Lab. Her goal is to lower the threshold for anyone interested in working with micro-organisms and waste streams in the development of new materials.

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