Bio Design Lab
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Future of Life Summer School

A speculative summer program exploring future narratives across different design disciplines.

Bio Design Lab, HfG Karlsruhe, Germany
Dates: July 26th - 30th
Open Call: May 18th - June 5th

Program Download


The Future of Life Summer School is an exploratory summer program organised by Bio Design Lab, an incubator for collaboration within Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. It is a hybrid and evolving space that connects the university with local resources and aims to reflect on modes of production and collaboration.
Within the framework of the university’s 30th anniversary, the Summer School of Bio Design Lab invites 60 students and recent graduates to create probable, plausible and speculative future narratives of cohabitation. From future material mining to terrestrial designing, from building materials to settling on different planets - participants will explore parallel and partly interwoven program strands and form a bio-circular system by the end of the program.
The five-day program offers workshops led by inspiring designers, architects and researchers followed by an open evening program with lectures, talks, panel discussions and performances.


With rising temperatures and CO2 levels, as well as the declining health of our ecosystem, we are forced to reevaluate our co-existence on this planet.

We ask ourselves:

What will life in the future look like?
And is there still place for us?

Both design and designers play a central role in exploring these critical questions. Designers can challenge the outdated concepts of sourcing, producing and consuming whereas design can portray complex information in an accessible form. Future of Life participants together with inspiring designers, architects and practitioners will work on proposed research questions on an experimental and material level. New material concepts, tools and spaces will emerge through a series of workshops, lectures and exhibits.


The daytime program offers workshops led by renowned international and local designers, researchers, philosophers and guided tours in collaboration with ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe)

How do our present actions shape the fossils of future?

This speculative workshop will look into a far-future scenario and investigate anthropogenic materials, future mining and how the term »value« will shift in future materials.

Workshop expert: Shahar Livne

Framework: 100 years (speculative scenario)

What would you talk about with bacteria?

Our environment is built on microorganisms and there could not be a life without them. We are slowly developing tools to start communicating with microorganisms - to what extent could such a collaboration benefit both sides?

Workshop experts: Paula Nerlich & Romy Kaiser

Framework: 5-20 years (probable / possible scenario)

Will climate catastrophes shape our cities?

Our future will be defined by our ability to adapt to environmental changes - from rising temperatures and water levels to extreme storms and resource shortages. From photosynthesis to carbon-absorbing materials and alternative techniques - what will life in a city look like in future?

Workshop expert: Niveau Zero Atelier

Framework: 20-100 years (plausible / speculative scenario)

What tools will go extinct in future?

As the approach to designing products changes, so do our tools. What tools will a designer in future need in order to excel? What role will Bio Labs play in the development of skill, material and collaboration? And will schools be able to adapt?

Workshop expert: Chris Spatschek

Framework: 20-100 years (plausible / speculative scenario)


An investigative on-site visit to the ZKM »Biomedia. The Age of Media with Life-like Behavior« exhibition to learn and discuss possible forms of cohabitation between organic and artificial forms of life.


July 27th – 19:00

Presentations and a panel discussion about expanding life on other planets. Critical questions will be asked, such as, where do we even start? What should be packed in our bags? What materials will be used and how will food be grown?

Panel members:
Design researchers Paula Nerlich & Romy Kaiser,
Conceptual material designer Shahar Livne,
Artist and space systems researcher Angelo Vermeulen.

July 28th – 19:00

An event dedicated to living materials, structures and dreaming bold about solutions that could heal our planet in terms of rising temperatures and dropping biodiversity.

Panel members:
Architect Rachel Armstrong,
Synthetic Biologist Dr. Shrikrishnan Sankaran,
Research and Design Studio Niveau Zero Atelier.

July 29th – 19:00

A selection of »food-for-thought« movies.


  • Can demonstrate an interest in changing the world through design;
  • Possesses a good level of English;
  • Is curious, creative and has a collaborative mindset;
  • Is a student or recent graduate
    (graduated no longer than 3 years ago).


Participation at the summer school is free of charge. However, participants need to cover the traveling, accommodation and daily costs.


The Summer School Future of Life is a 5-day long program filled with workshops, talks, guided tours and panel discussions. All workshops and presentations will be held in English.


Future of Life Summer School starts in the afternoon on July 26th 2022, evening and will end in the evening of July 30th


The Summer School takes place in Karlsruhe, Germany within the premises of HfG Karlsruhe, Lorenzstr. 15, 76135 Karlsruhe, Germany


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

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