Designing Nature

A project that is a cross between an exotic Garden of Eden and an illegal growshop, a home hothouse, and a biotech laboratory. NAT, designing nature is about the interface where nature and culture, biology and design intertwine. Some call it biomimicry, others next nature or simply ecodesign, but no matter what you call it, it is a fact that for some time now designers from a wide range of disciplines have expressed a keen interest in this specific interface. MU has challenged ten of these designers, all of them with a proven track record in successfully integrating living nature into their work, to develop a new work for NAT. They are free to make use of grass or bacteria, wind or earth, flowers or animals, food or water. And as these are living elements, there’s a good chance that a number of works will develop in a natural way during the three-week exhibition in MU. They grow, proliferate, or rot before your very eyes. To facilitate these processes as organically as possible, we have made sure that there is plenty of moisture, heat, and light. This means that the exhibition space will contrary to the normal state of affairs, feel like a ‘wet area’.

The second layer in the NAT concept has a more design-related character, because with the title NAT there is no avoiding the link with the word’s antonym DROOG. Even so, NAT is not meant as a criticism of DROOG but as a natural counterpart of this ‘brand’. Therefore, visitors to NAT will not come across the individual names of any of the participating designers. Just like in nature, things evolve into something else, components join and grow together, crossbreed with one another, or spring from one another. Consequently, the distinction between individual designers and their designs starts blurring, creating room for a kind of Gesammtkunstwerk: an intelligent yet anonymous design.

NAT, designing nature is like a finger on the pulse of sustainable, ecological, and biotech design in the year 2007. The selected designers are therefore able to translate the most diverse environmental theories into everyday, usable, and often stimulating objects and visions on nature and culture.

In addition, MU invites, just as it did last year on the occasion of the exhibition Copypaste History, an author to make a publication. This time Koert van Mensvoort will express his thoughts and vision on nature and design. Koert, computerscientist, artist and philospher, host of the website, has amongst others published a book called Next Nature (2005) together with Mieke Gerritzen and is a professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology and Sandberg Institute. This publication should not be regarded as a catalogue to the exhibition but as a supplement providing a relevant context and a deepening of insight. However, the publication on its own makes excellent reading as well.

Finally, in cooperation with Kunstenaars & CO we are preparing a symposium that will take place early November 2007. Various guest speakers from the world of design, the agrobusiness and horticulture are invited to share their vision on the themes proposed by NAT with a broad audience.