EKSIG 2017 Keynote


June 19th, 9:30 - 10:30

"Self-repairing cities" - Mark Miodownik

Institute of Making, UK


As a result of our greater understanding of matter, the distinction between animate and inanimate matter is now becoming blurred, ushering in a new materials age. Bionic people with synthetic organs, bones and even brains are becoming a reality. Just as we are becoming more synthetic, so our man-made environment is changing to become more lifelike: buildings, objects, materials that heal-themselves are being developed. This talk reviews the science behind these new animate material technologies and considers whether a particular goal, that of creating self-repairing cities, is achievable.


June 19th, 15:45-16:45

"Hedonic design" - Anna Vallgårda

IT University of Copenhagen, DK


I will argue for a hedonistic turn in design. Hedonism is briefly defined as the pursuit of enjoyable experiences. What makes something enjoyable cannot be defined a priori, only experienced and thus described and reflected upon a posteriori. Indeed, there is no global measure of enjoyableness independent of the view of the subject who experience. Thus, what is enjoyable for some may legitimately not be so for most others. Within the functional paradigm effectiveness and efficiency have been the key motivational values with aesthetics and pleasure only granted a role in as much as they helped optimize the purpose of the design. This is what we could call functional aesthetics or functional hedonism. Genuine hedonistic design, on the other hand, is about designs that enable enjoyable experiences for their own sake. The pursuit of enjoyment may sound superficial at first glance but we can find profound enjoyment in accomplishments as well as in challenging aesthetic and sensory experiences. I will argue how the values of hedonism as a leitmotif will help open new design spaces, challenge our perception of the role of design and designers, and generally provide us with richer and more enjoyable experiences. 

June 20th, 13:30 - 14:30

"Growing Fungal Futures" - Maurizio Montalti

Officina Corpuscoli


One of the main challenges of the current century is to transform our consumption-oriented economic system into an ecologically-responsible, conscious and self-sustaining society. It is therefore paramount to envision and to develop alternatives tackling the urgent issues characterising collective communities worldwide. One of these is identified in waste generation and the subsequent environmental impact originated by oil-based/ synthetic/toxic compounds (plastics), as well as by consumer’s behaviour. By entering a direct partnership with micro-organisms (e.g. fungi), a range of novel opportunities is revealed, allowing to envision and put to test a radical paradigm shift, offering a different insight into the objects populating our everyday life and the materials they consist of, as well as into the way production systems could be conceived and reinterpreted. Hence, the mycelia (“root-system” of fungi) of selected fungal species, are to be looked at as the main actors, responsible for favouring the growth of harmless materials, products and systems. A remarkable quality characterising such circular approach lies in valuing existing value chains and organic waste, transforming them into a vast array of novel matters, each characterised by diverse qualities and suitable for different applications. The resulting “cultivated” objects are 100% natural, fully compostable and resulting from waste streams (i.e Circular Economy), tangible signifiers of the way in which materials must and will change in the upcoming future (i.e. bio-technological revolution) and of how manufacturing processes and techniques will modify accordingly. By discussing a number of projects outlining such transformative processes, we will explore and possibly demonstrate how working in collaboration with living organisms and systems can lead to ground-breaking, innovative outcomes. Thus, contributing to positively impact society at large, affecting both industry and consumer’s behaviour and balancing the role of the individual with the ecosystem he’s part of.