As a design company, Cerebella uses biological specimens as inspiration for textile patterns. What drives this process is our desire to share a passion for looking more closely at the world to reveal the stuff big ideas are made of. This sort of observation cannot be done with science or art alone; it requires a combination of the two. Our creative juices really get flowing by keeping up with discoveries and innovations in microscopy, material science, ecology, architecture, and everything in between. Here's a short list of ideas that we believe will change how we see in 2014 and beyond.
DISCOVERIES & INNOVATIONS
nVista a small, detachable fluorescence microscope developed by Inscopix (based in CA) that allows scientists to see and track the neural activity of rodents. This is an amazing tool that has the potential to shape our understanding of how neural circuitry impacts behavior. The utilization of in vivo deep brain imaging will shed new light on the neural underpinnings of neuropsychiatric disorders like Parkinson's, autism, and schizophrenia. There is no doubt this new technology will move neuroscience forward in big ways.
The Silk Pavilion seeks to better understand how silk worms create 3D cocoons out of a single silk strand. This project exhibits biomimicry at its best, by blending equal parts CNC machine-built primary structure and live silkworm-built cocoon. The result is a large "inhabitable" structure that naturally reflects the building habits of 6,500 silkworms. One of the most interesting findings was that the silkworms would move towards dark, dense areas within the framed structure made of 26 polygonal panels.
3. Fabrics from Food
Over the last few years, a number of designers and entrepreneurs have looked to food for new insights into the future of sustainable textiles. 2013 was an especially popular year for Qmilk, a textile fiber made from milk that cannot be consumed, and Orange Fiber, the brainchild of an Italian duo that turns citrus waste into fashionable fabrics. Then there is Biolace, a theoretical design research project led by Carole Collet at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Through this project, Collet imagines what the future of biological manufacturing might look like if plants could grow food and lace.
Think back to day one of chemistry class when your teacher presented a diagram showing the basic building blocks of living things. You discussed how the function of proteins is defined by their physical structure at four levels: primary (amino acids), secondary (alpha helix & beta-pleated sheets), tertiary (3D structure), and quaternary (protein molecule complex). Well, scientists in Germany and Spain have collaborated to develop nanFTIR, a new optical technique that visualizes the secondary structure of proteins as they are mapped on the nanoscale with great precision. In the future, this sensitive technology may be utilized in biomedical research that investigates conditions like Alzheimer's, where it is helpful to understand the conformational changes of amyloid structures at a molecular level.
5. All Things NASA & Space Life
We're talking the Bio-Suit, the first Martian Bedrock Samples, and Earth-born microbes hitchhiking a ride to Mars. Why? Because humans are endlessly curious, and constantly searching for answers to questions that are often so big they boggle the mind. Yet, we continue to recognize the beauty in each small experiment and discovery that leads us closer to answers. As cuts are made to the list of the first applicants for Mars One, we can only begin to imagine what the most macroscopic bio-inspired design project of all-- the first permanent human settlement on Mars-- might bring. But hey, if there's life up there, then Cerebella will have the chance to go interplanetary!