Interview with designer Helene Steiner (HS), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Biologic Self-Transforming Biological Skin.

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Interview with Helene Steiner at Sunday 24th of April 2016: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
HS : Nature has engineered its own actuators, as well as efficient material compositions and structures triggered by these actuators to achieve functional transformations. We are imagining a world where actuators and sensors can be grown rather than be manufactured ­ being derived from nature, not engineered in factories.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
HS : We develop bioLogic with an harmonious perspective, where biological and engineering approaches flow in sync. The current garment is exhibited internationally and might get the opportunity to be part of the Olympics 2020.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
HS : bioLogic is still in research and inspired many of us to explore further potential of biological interfaces.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
HS : From the discovery of the humidity­-sensitive bacteria to the first useable/produced/ready-made garment it took the team two years.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
HS : Based on the sensitivity to relative humidity of the bacteria cells we started looking for potential applications ­ and realized that our skin has similar features ­ its pores open and close to regulate body temperature and transpiration. But most of our clothing prevents our body from regulating itself. Therefore we wanted to design a breathable ’second skin’ that features an interface between the environment and the human body.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
HS : Currently bioLogic is still in research and needs further improvement to reach the customer market.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
HS : In our view, the garment for a dancer illustrates best the beauty of transformation in nature: The repressed is expressed, celebrated ­ perspiration becomes the ultimate ornament on a cutting edge outfit.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
HS : The bioLogic team is an interdisciplinary and international team of designers, engineers and scientists.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
HS : The garment is especially designed for sports activities. The first prototype was built for (and tested by) dancers.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
HS : There is currently no comparable interface that adapts to our bodies needs ­communicated by our body itself, activated by bacteria cells.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
HS : It is a compound word made from biology and logic because our concept takes its inspiration from biology and combines the principles of nature, engineering and design logically.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
HS : We used common wet­-lab tools like pipettes, bio­reactors and centrifuges for the scientific exploration and had to build our own micron­-resolution printer and customized software to realize our vision.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
HS : bioLogic is the first wearable living interface between body and the environment.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
HS : We collaborated with New Balance to study the human heat­ and sweat­-maps.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
HS : Our design is enabled by technology but activated by nature.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
HS : To engineer the garment we studied, analyzed and work with the data on the reaction of the bacteria cells to relative humidity and different substrates and also combine it with the data from/on human heat­ and sweat­-maps.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
HS : Because we are working with live material, it was a big challenge to predict and control the desired reaction.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
HS : We think that bioLogic is a good example for what is possible if you bring science, engineering and design together and we want to share this experience with people worldwide.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
HS : Because of the interdisciplinary team, each person learned from the others disciplines. Furthermore it was a deep learning process to understand and translate transformations in nature.