NY Times: Bio Design with Gen2Seat and Mitchell Joachim

The Beauty of Bacteria
by Julie Lasky, NY Times, Thur. Jan. 17, 2013. pp. D1, D7.
A growing movement called bio design is looking to natural organisms like fungus and algae to shape the interiors of the future.


"...Still, bio designers must grapple with the Frankenstein factor: a concern that their experiments will unleash some unmanageable new horror. Mitchell Joachim, who co-founded the architecture and urban design studio Terreform One in Brooklyn in 2006, and runs a bio lab within its precincts, says he is paid regular visits by representatives from Homeland Security and the F.B.I.

“They just come by to see what a healthy, working community-based lab looks like, as opposed to a terrorist cell,” Mr. Joachim said.

He believes the fear that researchers will blunder into a ghastly science-fiction situation is overwrought. “It’s like you’re designing a teapot and you accidentally make a machine gun,” he said. “It just doesn’t happen.”

Mr. Joachim is part of a team responsible for developing the concept of living trees grafted together to create a domed shelter. He has also imagined a house made of living tissue — though he prefers the term “meat” — and is working on a chair made from a new kind of compostable plastic that combines the root base of mushrooms with genetically reinforced cellulose. The additional ingredient is keratin (or what we call fingernails), meant to provide strength and water resistance.

Many believe chairs in general hit their peak in the mid-20th century and require no further refinement, but Mr. Joachim has other ideas. “Charles and Ray Eames couldn’t copy our chair,” he said . “It’s not an everyday project slapping together some steel and wood or fiberglass.”

He added: “And when you’re done with this chair, unlike an Ikea chair, you don’t landfill the thing. You throw it in the garden and it feeds other creatures. It’s part of the web of life.”"