Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (10)

Ethan Frier in collaboration with Jacob Douenias have created Living Things, a project that extend the area of use of micro-algae.

Description by Ethan Frier: Living Things is an installation which explores symbiotic living with beneficial micro-algae through a series of three vignettes of a home environment. This installation contains furniture and furnishings of a possible and not too distant future where the symbiosis between human beings and microorganisms is externalized and celebrated in the built environment.

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (3)

We are celebrating the beautiful qualities of the beneficial micro-algae by integrating them into unique yet familiar forms. This exhibits challenges visitors to consider what the future of the domestic environment may become, especially in the context of the precarious agricultural and energy needs of a ballooning population.

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (11)

Through an installation of domestic vignettes in which Spirulina algae are cultivated in custom glass bioreactors designed as household furnishings, Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms.

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (6)

The three vignettes; a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen/control center each espouse a different character, and the living vessels function differently in each space. The morphologies of hand-blown glass vessels function both as lighting and heating elements for the human occupants, and high functioning photobioreactors which provide heat, light, agitation, air supply, nutrient and waste control to the living algae inside. This life support system is connected through just under ½ mile of wiring and plumbing to a hybrid between a scientific workstation and a media cabinet. At this workstation each of the nine vessel’s life support systems can be adjusted individually. The 3D printed nylon knobs embedded in the surface of this workstation actuate eighteen valves which allow for the harvesting of Spirulina when the culture becomes dense enough, and the supply of fresh liquid media to each vessel. The cabinet contains the pumps, tubing, manifolds, LED drivers, air pumps, heater connections and filters which comprise the heart of the life support system.

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (7)

The microorganism Spirulina was selected for the installation for its ability to thrive in very alkaline waters, where most bacteria cannot live. As the algae grow very quickly, the character of each vessel changes continuously. The liquid becomes a deeper rich green and absorbs more and more light from the internally lit vessels. Individual Spirulina filaments which are just barely visible to the naked eye (⅓ of a millimeter long) can be seen mixing inside the glass vessels. Once filtered, the algae can be dried from a viscous paste into a fine, green powder which is over 60% protein by weight and is mostly flavorless with a hint of grassiness. During the course of the installation, we are working with bartenders and chefs to create drinks and dishes which feature Spirulina at special events held in the installation. Living Things by Ethan Frier and Jacob Douenias

Project: Living Things
Team: Ethan Frier and Jacob Douenias
Client: Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date: January – May 2015

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (8)

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (9)

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (1)

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (4)

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (5)

Living Things creates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms (12)

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

This Summer Pavilion is Created Totally Open to the Garden

This building is located on a plot of 4000 m2 with the purpose of becoming the focus of main activity of housing in the summer months. For this, a summer pavilion is created totally open to the garden as a continuity of this one.

Westrock House / Tom Hurt Architecture

Tom Hurt Architecture Studio has renovated and extended in 2016 the Westrock House, a 1950’s farm house in Austin, Texas. The new six-level addition...

24 sqm Apartment Inspired by Japanese 5S Methodology

The apartment is designed to facilitate union with the Japanese 5S methodology. It was intended the design deliberately place importance on selecting, organising and caring for the belongings of the occupants.

San Francisco Modern House by John Maniscalco Architecture

Butterfly Residence is a San Francisco modern house designed by John Maniscalco Architecture. This complete rebuild of a mid-century, the design flows from an analysis...

The Apartment of Carole and Robin by Les Ateliers Tristan & Sagitta

The apartment of Carole and Robin designed by Les Ateliers Tristan & Sagitta is located on the ground floor of a mansion of the XVIIth...

Avant-Garde Sunday Room by Ukrainian Designer Pavel Vetrov

The Ukrainian designer Pavel Vetrov created this avant-garde room - called SUNDAY - inspired by the Panic Room Project. In this project, a clear line divides the room: half a room is completely white, while the other half is fully decorated with graffiti.