Suzanne Lee’s Biofabricate, Growing A Better Future

As we enter a new Material Age, startups like Biofabricate are being driven by creativity, innovation, and environmental responsibility.

We are big fans of Suzanne Lee. She is the material designing superstar who has brought our attention to components made out of yeast, algae, animal cells and bacteria. Founder of Biofabricate, an organization dedicated to finding naturally-sourced materials, Lee is also chief creative officer for Modern Meadow, a New Jersey-based startup that is not shy about showing us another way to live a sustainable life. More recently they unveiled Zoa, a bio-leather made from fermented yeast for apparel and accessories.

Suzanne Lee

Wanting to know more about the work that the Lee and her team do at Biofabricate, we got the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ straight from the horse’s mouth.

What?

“We’re entering a new Material Age. It is driven by creativity, innovation, and environmental responsibility. We are beginning to build materials using living systems.

Biofabrication, originally a biomedical definition, today imagines a world of material manufacture where future consumer products are designed and grown harnessing biological organisms.

This is a new design paradigm centred on cultivating materials with living cells. Organisms such as yeast, bacteria, fungi, algae and mammalian cells are fermented, cultured and engineered to synthesize natures materials but with new functional and aesthetic properties.

They share one key element: life.”

How?

“Computers can now read and write with DNA. We can all access the profile of our personal genome and microbiomes. At the intersection of design, science, urban agriculture, brewing, cooking, 3d printing, making, even gardening, living cells are the becoming the factories of the future. From the most ancient methods of culturing products to the latest techniques in synthetic biology, we’re starting to reimagine our surrounding world through a biological lens.”

Suzanne Lee
Suzanne Lee, founder of BioCouture and creative director of Modern Meadow, shares her recipe for creating cow-free “leather” using tea, sugar, and the same yeast and bacteria found in kombucha.

Who?

“The world of biofabrication is being shaped by a multiplicity of researchers from design, biology and technology via industry, academia and open source communities. Bio-innovation is emerging from biotech startups, biohacker groups and collaborative initiatives like iGEM, to research-led design studios, artists, synthetic biology accelerators and finally consumer brands driving new thinking around sustainability.

At Biofabricate we embrace a diversity of responsible approaches and include everyone from synbio investigators to artisanal practitioners. We’re interested in where these worlds collide.”

Why?

“Biofabricate was founded in 2014 by Suzanne Lee of Biocouture ™, a NASA/Nike Material Innovator and TED Senior Fellow. Her aim is to nurture collaboration around this field, share knowledge, build community and accelerate innovation.

The annual Biofabricate conference brings together a truly unique and unlikely global audience comprised of designers and scientists, artists and engineers, global brands and startups, investors and policy makers, trend-forecasters and media.

Your Next T-Shirt Could Be Made Out of Seaweed

Industries represented span architecture and automotive, beauty and biotech, consumer electronics, fashion and furniture, sport and software, packaging and product.
Together we hope to foster dialogue that leads to new thinking, inspires innovation and powers investment to create a more sustainable future for all.”