In my FMP, I have explored the design of a mycelium-composite consumer electronic. Building on the experiences in my M1.2 and M2.1 project I continued with step four of the Material Driven Design approach , showcasing the design of a mycelium-composite baby monitor (CA & TR).
In this project, I explored my vision on a future bio-inclusive circular economy (US). In the design of MycoMonitor I tried to apply the circular strategies I redefined in my M2.1 to the design of the prototype. Applying these strategies, I created a biomaterial product (CA & TR). With MycoMonitor I explored how a modular design approach (TR) can realize the concept of a bio-tech product. For this, I stepped away from the ingrown electronic composites I explored in my M2.1. I found that modular design was a good approach for applying as many strategies in a bio-tech product as possible. It has given me a good grasp on how to design in a circular way.
I validated specific design decisions of MycoMonitor mostly from my first person-perspective and experiences (CA). The overall design was validated with feedback from Alecto (BE). In this process I learned the strength of showing stakeholders the potential of biomaterial products through design sketches (CA) and high-quality prototypes (CA & TR). As I learned in my M2.1 project, documenting my process and prototypes through good photography and visuals (CA) helps communicating my vision and designs.
To engage in open discussions about mycelium with the public and designers (US), I presented MySpeaker at the Dutch Design Week. The focus in my overall master and this project has been on generating new knowledge (MDC) for other designers (US). I have learned that this is possible with speculative prototypes that are aesthetic, functional and sustainable. In theory I aim to make them sell-able, but for this user testing with their intended user audience is important. For me these projects were still about a first exploration into the topic; convincing companies (BE) and other designers (US) about the potential of mycelium-composite consumer electronics. I think the user testing of such materials could benefit from a similar approach as I have taken in M1.2 research in combination with classical user testing. In addition, I talked with experts in mycelium and circular design to get an understanding of why we don’t see mycelium-composite consumer electronics on the market yet (BE). This taught me about the importance of expert involvement when exploring future concepts.
While creating prototypes I focused on minimizing the rough visual and tactile aesthetics of mycelium (CA & TR). I experienced these influences on a design during my M1.2 project and the course Interactive Materiality. My FMP is the first project where I actively tried to alter such visual aesthetics to create a more accepted and aesthetic product. Using insights from my M1.2, M2.1 experiments and the first MycoMonitor prototype, I designed a mould for a one-part mycelium-solid that enabled smoother finishes and more consistent production (TR & BE). I learned how to digitally fabricate a 3D-printable mould. In that process I learned the importance of designing your products and production moulds simultaneously to ensure a well-rounded design (CA & TR). This stands in contrast to the course Device Integrated Responsive Materials where the mould design focused on realizing a pre-defined design. With these experiences, my abilities to create high-quality aesthetic and functional prototypes grew in this master and final project.
MycoMonitor version one (left) and version two (right)
MycoMonitor version two
MycoMonitor in context; background made with Photoshop AI - prompt: pillows, baby blue, a plant, pillows, baby bedroom vibe
mould of version two
modular design of version one
exploded view of MycoMonitor
first sketches of MycoMonitor; background made with Photoshop AI - prompt: nursery on background of baby monitor
MycoMonitor version one at demo day
overview of competencies and expertise areas
The visual above shows how the Expertise Areas have contributed together to my competencies as designer. The bold competencies have been shown in my Final Master Project, the others I have developed throughout the master but were not highlighted in the FMP.
In summary, I developed my competencies throughout this master with a main focus on CA and TR. Together with the other competencies I used the FMP semester to confirm a clear Vision on design and find my Identity as a material driven and circular designer. While my focus has been on mycelium, I believe these competencies will help me explore different biomaterials where needed in the future.
Below you can read more about the individual expertise areas and how they contribute in my work as a designer.
creativity and aesthetic
For me CA is about design from my first person-perspective. It is about creating aesthetic products and materials both in visual and tactile aspects taking inspiration from the world around us. I apply sketching, prototyping, visual communication and Material Driven Design  in creating such products.
technology and realization
For me TR is about understanding materials and creating high-quality functional prototypes with them. I apply an understanding of electronics and materials, Material Driven Design  and realization techniques (CAD, laser cutting) to do so.
user and society
For me US is about understanding and envisioning a sustainable and circular future. It drives my view on a bio-inclusive circular economy. It is about convincing others about this potential future. For this I engage in discussions, show speculative yet realistic prototypes and try to understand users their perception of visual and tactile aesthetics in future products. Through interacting with users I aim to create understandable and desirable products.
math, data and computing
For me MDC is about the data I generate through a Material Driven Design Approach . For this I use my first-person perspective in design. I also use qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection on interactions with designs. Furthermore, I look at how interfaces handle data to shape interactions their computational and temporal form.
business and entrepreneurship
For me BE is the collaboration with businesses to explore the future of bio-inclusive design. It is about convincing them of a bio inclusive circular economy through exemplary design and getting feedback from them on what the market wants and needs. For this I engage in talks and show the benefits of certain design decisions through circular strategies, LCAs and BMCs.
Elvin Karana, Bahareh Barati, Valentina Rognoli and Anouk Zeeuw van de Laan. 2015. Material Driven Design (MDD): A method to design for material experiences. International Journal of Design, 9(2), 35-54. http://resolver.tudelft.nl/uuid:7359026d-57f5-4f63-9835-126c5d23baed