On Wednesday, Sept. 11, the Design and Science exhibition had its opening reception and round table discussion at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center. The exhibition features projects connecting design and science through models, bio-design and representations of natural data. The exhibition will remain at EMU until Oct. 17.
The exhibition was curated by Leslie Atzmon and featured a number of projects. There were both designers and scientists present at the round table discussion. It was moderated by Dr. Deepa Butoliya (Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan) and Dr. Brian Connolly (Biology, EMU).
“I wanted to make this type of research, the combination of design and science, accessible to the students and faculty of EMU,” Atzmon said.
Diana Nicholas has extensive experience as an architect and as a design researcher. She and her partner, Shivanthi Ananoan, microbiologist and botanist, have combined their skills and put their work on display at the exhibition. Their laboratory, Integral Living Research, produces healthy solutions for urban families suffering from housing stress. Currently, they are producing a low cost growing unit for families with little access to fresh food.
“In these collaborations, I’m often able to cross disciplinary boundaries,” Nicholas explained. “And I think equity is a huge part of this type of thinking. My work is driven by a pragmatic need to actually deploy solutions in an urban environment.”
Jason Ferguson, artist and EMU associate professor, creates performance pieces, sculptural objects and videos with an absurdist and humorous tone. One of his notable designs featured at the exhibition is ‘The Nature of Being.’ Using medical software, he 3D-printed a full scale replica of his skeletal system that he describes as a “memento mori.”
Audrey Speyer is trained as a Textile-Surface-Materials designer but has been researching the biotechnology of fungi that break down contaminants in the soil. Her projects featured at the exhibition include her “Purifungi MycoPod,” an incubator to grow mushrooms on polluted land.
“Purifungi is researching how we could produce objects through micro imitation,“ Speyer explained. "Micro imitation is a natural way to absorb pollution with mushroom cultures that are in the environment. Mushrooms are the primary recycler in the forest.”
Speyer also developed the “Champtray de Luxe,” which is an ashtray made from mycelium that grows on cigarette butts. The goal of these ashtrays is to create a “waste channel” for these cigarette butts to reduce the negative impact they have on the environment.
The projects featured all aim to improve the environment we live in through innovative methods. The Design and Science exhibition is entirely free in the University Gallery, featuring the projects mentioned and much more. Attending the exhibition also counts as a Life Beyond the Classroom credit for EMU students.
“We live in a changing world, and some say a dying world, but I remain optimistic that the solutions are out there, by discovering science through innovation and design,” added moderator, Connolly. “What this panel has really shown is that there is just a multitude of options in bringing those two together.”