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

Bissember, A ORCID: 0000-0001-5515-2878, Hindrum, S, Hornblow, M ORCID: 0000-0003-2195-7672, Kilah, N ORCID: 0000-0002-0615-3791, Power, J ORCID: 0000-0001-5354-0842, Thickett, S ORCID: 0000-0002-8168-3856 and Yong, A 2018 , 'Growing and bio-fabricating SCOBY: a project developed in an extended cross-disciplinary research team', in DW Maxwell (ed.), Proceedings of the 1st Annual Design Research Conference (ADR18) , University of Sydney, Australia, pp. 581-595 .

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This paper will explore recent collaborative design research into Symbiotic Colony ofBacteria and Yeast (SCOBY), also known as Kombucha. This material is being utilisedby both product and fashion designers working within the field of bio-design. SuzanneLee's BioCouture SCOBY garments are well known examples of SCOBY used in anexperimental fashion context. However, up until now upscaling of SCOBY and thechallenges 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-likematerial have been investigated - supported by three separate, yet related, projects: ateam-teaching development grant that brought together chemistry andarchitecture/design, research undertaken by a student in a Deans Summer ResearchScholarship programme, and other students in an Advanced Design Research unit. Inthis paper, the collaborative cross-disciplinary process will be outlined, including thechallenges encountered and the SCOBY outcomes produced. The process of up-scalingthe growing process will also be described. To facilitate this up-scaling of the growingprocess, large 'farms' were constructed - the largest 2.4m x 1.2m. This processextended the dialogue beyond the initial team to include the knowledge and expertise ofa SCOBY artist.The next stage of the research and investigation involved students exploring thebio-fabrication possibilities of the material. SCOBY presents unique challenges forfabrication. It has variable moisture content, lacks self-supporting structural integrity andis a living material. The 3D-printability of SCOBY was piloted; and subsequently, throughfurther student research development, techniques of folding and creasing tested. Thismulti-dimensional project, with its various outputs and investigations, represents acollaborative, cross-disciplinary material investigation that seeks to operate at the porousedges of disciplines, technologies and design paradigms.

Item Type: Conference Publication
Authors/Creators:Bissember, A and Hindrum, S and Hornblow, M and Kilah, N and Power, J and Thickett, S and Yong, A
Keywords: SCOBY, biofabrication, biodesign, multidisciplinary
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings of the 1st Annual Design Research Conference (ADR18)
Publisher: University of Sydney
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 The University of Sydney and the author

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