Bio Design by Puma & MIT

A breathing sports shoe, that grows its own air passageways to enable personalized ventilation? A learning insole that prevents fatigue and improves athletes’ performance? A t-shirt that responds to environmental factors by changing its appearance to inform the wearer about the air quality? What sounds like future visions are actually research results by Sports company PUMA and the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Design Lab

PUMA and MIT Design Lab have been conducting research in the field of biodesign since June 2017. Biodesign is the practice of using living materials such as algae or bacteria to create products. It makes possible a football jersey made from the silk of a spider or a shoe box grown from mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms. PUMA Biodesign explores the new frontiers of biological design and fabrication to bring advances in science and biotechnologies closer to our daily lives through sport products.

Four initial experiments that derived from that study were exhibited at this year’s Milan Design Week. The four initial projects include a Breathing Shoe, which is a biologically active shoe that enables personalised ventilation by growing its own air passageways to keep the foot cool; Deep Learning Insoles, which collate realtime biofeedback by using organisms to measure chemical phenomena that indicates things like fatigue; Carbon Eaters, which is a microbially-active t-shirt that responds to its environment to change its appearance and inform the wearer about air quality; and Adaptive Packaging, a biologically programmable material that can change its shape and structure to become a new type of alive, biodegradable and adaptive packaging. See the videos here.

Bolt Threads x Stella Mc Cartney

Stella McCartney continues the brand’s dedication to fashion eco innovation with the announcement of a new partnership with Bolt Threads, a San Fransisco-based biotechnology company creating the next generation of advanced materials.

This new collaboration will push boundaries in fabric innovation and usher in the next generation of cutting-edge textiles. Bolt Threads engineers fibers from scratch based on proteins found in nature, and then develops cleaner, closed-loop processes for manufacturing, using green chemistry practices.  Exemplified in the collaboration with Stella McCartney, Bolt Threads is able to create silk using yeast, making the textile vegan-friendly; staying true to the designer’s vegetarian philosophy. Solution oriented, this process reduces pollution, creates long-term sustainability, and always remains cruelty-free.

The material is the result of seven years of research and design in a lab. At the molecular level it is spider silk made by human hands. A big team of scientists, engineers, technicians and designers, have developed a way to closely mimic silk created in nature by producing a fiber from corn syrup that was fed to a yeast fermentation. Once the protein is harvested and purified into a powder, it is wet spun into fibres and twisted into yarns.

The first piece from the partnership will be a one-off gold dress made from Bolt Threads’ signature “spider silk”. It will feature in an upcoming exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art called Items: Is Fashion Modern?