Bio Design Lab
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Future of Life Summerschool ELEMENTALS

A speculative summer program exploring future narratives across different design disciplines.
Bio Design Lab, HfG Karlsruhe, Germany
Date: 25.07.2023–29.07.2023

Program Download


  • indivisible portions of matter, a basic part of a whole. From the alchemical four-element doctrine to biological atomism and microspheres. At the opposite spectrum of scale Elementals have no measurable size. They utterly exceed the proportions of humans both in size and force. Elementals are gigantic, if simply not enormous. When a campfire turns into a forest fire, when a river breaks its banks or the ground swallows entire cities - we no longer take the calm course of nature for granted. Awaken by global entanglements, Water, Fire, Earth and Wind, put the power of the elements on display for us in a way we have rarely seen before.


    What holds the world together at its core will occupy us in this year‘s summer program „Future of Life - Elementals“. The four thematic strands, EARTH, WATER, FIRE and AIR will provide deeper insights into the conditions that make these natural forces possible. By means of artistic-creative as well as experimental approaches, speculative scenarios emerge, which at times ask: What is the elemental of (un)shared coexistence? How are elementals intimately linked to space and time, though they are neither simply spatial nor simply temporal? How do they intersect, overlap and envelop one another?


    The daytime program offers four parallel workshops led by renowned designers as well as guided tours to workshop-specific sites, labs and partner institutions, such as the ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe):

    Invisible to the naked eye, nevertheless omnipresent and essential for life – soil, a universe of complex network systems and exchange of information.
    Workshop led by Post Carbon Lab, a transdisciplinary biodesign research studio that explores the applications of microorganisms for a regenerative textile supply chain.

    How are the numerous commodity journeys impacting the surrounding marine biology, vegetation, the landscape as well as the water itself?
    Workshop led by Steffie de Gaetano & Giulia Pompilj, whose research practices converge at the crossroads of plant, pigment, photo, polluted and fibrous matter, together investigating the collision between anthropogenically accelerated cycles and interrupted metabolic fluxes.

    Fire - the beginning and the end. The fuel for human evolution and revolution. The final transformation of resources, materials, energy and even waste.
    Workshop led by Studio ThusThat, a design practice whose work exposes the hidden potential in the material world. Led by Kevin Rouff and Paco Boeckelmann, their work focusses on scientific research, industrial practices and making.

    Air does not obey nor care about human-made territorial borders, yet it affects and activates various material thresholds. It redraws maps that emphasize airborne events as cartographic markers.
    Led by interdisciplinary collective at Matters of Activity, this speculative workshop will explore the scientific, theoretical and ecological ways of aerial witnessing by means of designerly knowing and un/making.

For a full program overview and regular updates follow @future_of_life_school on Instagram


Apply now to be part of the school

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