A team of students from the MICA course “Grow the Future” has been named the Overall Winner of the Biodesign Challenge at the 2023 Biodesign Summit, a competition of top art, design, and research institutions from around the world.
Led by Ryan Hoover ’06 (Mount Royal School of Art MFA), faculty in Interdisciplinary Sculpture, the MICA team’s project, Mother Nacre, was presented alongside 44 others from June 22-23 at Parsons School of Design and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. Projects were judged by a panel of 41 experts from art, design, academia, and industry.
With their winning work, Mother Nacre’s team of students aim to change people’s relationship with plastic objects through the development of a Plastic Heirloom, which encases sentimental plastic objects in biomimetic nacre. Nacre, also known as mother of pearl, is a coating that mollusks use to protect against irritants.
MICA students presenting at the BDC were Sarah Becker, Riley Cox, Orin Noel, Maddie Olsen, Starling Wolfrum, Lily Xiao, and Finn Yencken. Joining them in the top eight finalists were teams from Aalto University, Aula Future + Firsthand, California College of the Arts (Architecture), School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Technológico de Monterrey, University of California, Davis, and the University of Texas at Austin.
“Grow the Future” is part of MICA’s Biofabrication initiative to explore sympoietic practices—making-with other living organisms. Led by Hoover, the unique laboratory includes curricular programming that places emerging biotechnologies, from genetic engineering to biomaterial development, into the hands of artists and designers. Their goal is to examine the ways living systems make things—and how we can work with these systems in new ways.
Since its founding in 2015, BDC has worked with over 100 colleges and high schools in 29 countries. Each June, finalist teams gather at MoMA and Parsons School of Design to present their projects to the judging panel and a public audience.