Biodesign in the Amazon, & the Future of Design and Manufacturing

Author: School of Design
March 6, 2023

Biodesign in the Amazon, and the Future of Design and Manufacturing

This coming Tuesday, March 07th, students in Prof. Carvalho’s Product Design 2 (DES.410-01) will get to learn how biodesign can connect nature and human creativity in a conversation with designer Andrea Bandoni, a doctoral researcher looking into the resources of the Brazilian Amazon.

5 Process

From fruit to product – the molding process of a cuia fruit into a set of containers (by Andrea Bandoni)

Biodesign in the context of the Amazon Forest: from inspiration to practice

Objects of the Forest (2012) was a design expedition in the Brazilian Amazon Forest in which I searched for objects that still today show a strong and balanced relationship between humans and the forest. The selected objects, most of them with indigenous roots, were organized in a publication and in several exhibitions. Ten years after the expedition, and after observing biodesign-related projects, I decided to connect the Amazonian findings to the field of biodesign through theoretical and practical investigation. This was possible by focusing on a specific object of the forest: the cuias.

The Amazonian tree Crescentia cujete produces cuia fruits, and an ancestral artisanal process turns them into biodegradable domestic objects. Some experiments with the tree are being conducted to check the feasibility of producing contemporary cuia-objects through biofabrication, by molding cuias while they grow. The methods include the observation and direct interaction with six trees in the city of Belém, in Brazil, and the immersion with traditional cuia artisans in the Amazon Forest area.

This lecture will explore the outcomes achieved so far in the collaboration with the cuieira tree, which show the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, the engagement of designers with each tree and its context, and the unpredictability of the whole process. The experiments make clear the disparity between industrialized systems and designing with living organisms.

About the Guest Speaker

Andrea Bandoni

Andrea Bandoni is a Brazilian designer and educator with a strong focus on ecology and creativity. She graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and is currently doing her Ph.D. in Design at Lisbon University, investigating Biodesign in the Amazon region.

Andrea believes design should add something relevant to our saturated world, being a creative force for environmental and social change. Design must stimulate a critical view and help unveil responsible options to our society. Her design methods are based on transdisciplinary research and hands-on experimentation, always built in dialogue with different perspectives. The respect for living systems and to people’s knowledge is visible in the outcomes of her work.

She had projects exhibited and acquired by museums and galleries in Brazil, China, Australia and in many countries in Europe. Her works were published in relevant books and magazines, and she was awarded Young Creative Design Entrepreneur by the British Council. Some of her main projects are "The Object Without History" and "Objects of the Forest" - the latter in the Brazilian Amazon Forest.



*The project that gave rise to these results received the support of a fellowship from “La Caixa” Foundation (ID 100010434). The fellowship code is LCF/BQ/DR22/11950001.

*This investigation is supported by CIEBA - Centro de Investigação e Estudos em Belas-Artes, financed by Portuguese funds through FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P., within the scope of the project UIDB/04042/2020.