Bioplastic Fantastic

This conceptual project by Royal College of Art graduate Johanna Schmeer builds on developments in nanotechnology to create synthetic foods for feeding the world's burgeoning population.

For her Bioplastic Fantastic project, Johanna Schmeer has imagined how products made from enzyme-enhanced bioplastics could produce essential nutrients as a substitute for traditional food resources that could soon run out.

"Bioplastic Fantastic investigates new types of products and interactions that might emerge from material innovations in the fields of bio- and nanotechnology," said Schmeer.

"The UN estimates that the world must produce 70 per cent more food (measured in calories) by 2050," she continued. "So instead of discussing how to grow more food, maybe we need to rethink food entirely."

Her proposals follow a recent breakthrough by scientist Russell Johnson, who managed to synthesise functioning biological cells made from plastics.

Schmeer designed seven products that create the essential food groups needed for humans to survive through synthetic processes powered by artificial photosynthesis.

The items produce water, vitamins, fibre, sugar, fat, protein and minerals in the forms of liquids and powders.

"All of the product designs are based on model organisms which have similar functions in nature," explained Schmeer. "They use the functional part of the biological circuit (enzymes), and combine this with non-living matter (bioplastic)."

The products include a series of green tubes that secrete sugar syrup and a machine that collects moisture from the air into white pouches, which can be drank from when squeezed.

"The project focusses less on communicating the exact functionality of these products, and more on the interactions, aesthetics, atmosphere, and the feeling involved in interacting with them," said the designer.

The movie produced for the project explores how people might interact with the synthetic foods.

"The loss of the natural sensuality of traditional food is substituted by a designed, artificial sensuality," she added.


Editor in chief of That's it Magazine. A shopaholic and travel junkie, based in Shanghai and Taipei.

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