top of page

MMA Art Scholarship - Elementary Design - Microorganisms and slow design

As a young designer, in my year of graduation I became most interested in sustainability focused movements and material-driven design. Along my critical approach, I also started to research a more radical direction of these topics, the organic raw materials that can be grown.

Bacterial cellulose is a microorganism that is a by-product of a special fermentation process where acetic acid bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and yeast are living together. Its medium is a liquid, most often green or black tea, which provides it with a sufficient source of nutrients. In addition, sugar is needed for glucose to help start fermentation. A special membrane layer is formed on the surface of the liquid, where the solution and the oxygen in the air meet, from which the raw material is obtained later after drying. Its characteristics vary depending on the growing conditions, such as duration, temperature, and the nature of the medium, and are most often compared to foil, artificial leather, and leather.

The material has been providing experimental potential for designers and researchers in developing contemporary design for more than 10 years, due to its many advantageous, designable properties.

Such properties are that it fills any shape of surface to nanoscale during growth. Its tensile strength is very high and due to its high water absorption capacity it can be colored well with organic pigments. The footprint on the environment is small compared to other materials that designers are experimenting with today to replace their functional properties. Its growth - apart from 20 and 30 ° C - does not require any special conditions, so it can be adapted anywhere in the world, regardless of location. Furthermore, the material can be grown completely organically and biologically composted after wear and tear.

From 2020, as an art scholarship holder of the Hungarian Academy of Arts, I have the opportunity to conduct in-depth experimentation and material research on the topic, which is full of surprises for me as well. My scholarship topic focuses mainly on bacterial cellulose grown from kombucha culture and the possibilities of different connections between this cultivable material and slow design methods.

Currently, my first conceptual object collection is being made, which is formed by the natural and artificial weaving of mycelium blocks and kombucha material. In addition, I’m doing  an ongoing research to learn about bacterial cellulose from a deep and multi-directional perspective, focusing on the diversity of media and processing.

Alexandra Kis-Baraksó
DSC_9245 (1).jpg
bottom of page