A Container That Also Assembles Its Own Contents


The cup above may look like just an empty container, but it's actually much more.

Top image: "Packaging That Creates Its Own Contents / Will Carey and Wendell Lim, Synthetic Aesthetics

Designer and curator for the synthetic aesthetics project Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and synthetic biologist Christina Agapakis joined us today to answer some of our questions about the future and present of designing with living materials, including a particularly intriguing project for a container that was more than it seemed.

Agapakis explains:

One of the Synthetic Aesthetics projects, by Will Carey and Wendell Lim included a series of speculative designs about Living with Living Things, including "packaging that creates its contents."

This is still pretty far off as an application that you might find at a store, but the concept was about rethinking food packaging and consumer waste. Here's some more about the project from the Synthetic Aesthetics website:

"We imagine an extreme probiotic drink that relies on bacteria to morph into a physical cup when exposed to a specific light wavelength. During shipping and storage, these light-moulded cups are 'alive' but remain dormant until water is poured inside, creating an effervescent, healthy drink. After several uses, the cup's walls begin to degrade and it can be composted.

'Packaging That Creates Its Contents' helps people think about what the world would be like if packaging never created waste. Hotwiring what scientists are already doing with bacteria – responding to light, in this case – completely changes the concept of packaging. By imagining biodegradable, lightweight containers built from living materials that reanimate when filled with liquid, the project aims to provoke further design exploration of the potential of synthetic biology for industrial design and packaging applications."

You can read the full Q&A, where they discuss the future of synthetic meat, the chemistry of alien life, and just how the addition of living materials changes the design process, right here.