Fungi project wins Bio Art & Design Award 2020

Microbiologist Han Wösten worked with designer on food-producing clothing

Credit: Dasha Tsapenko

The art project of fungi expert Han Wösten and designer Dasha Tsapenko has won the Bio Art & Design Award 2020, with a collection of garments based on fungi. An international jury selected three winning art projects from 12 teams in which international artists and designers collaborate with Dutch scientists.

Productive Fur 

Designer Dasha Tsapenko develops a collection of garments for the future, which introduces an alternative value system in fashion, by deriving inspiration from agriculture. Five coats show ve cycles of one garment. The first coat is based on cheese cloth filled with straw, the second on straw colonized by mycelium, and the third on mycelium colonized straw that forms mushrooms that can be used as food. After harvesting the mushrooms, the colonized straw is used as a soil to grow nitrogen fixing plants such as peas. This coat not only produces food but also enriches the soil enabling us to produce a fifth coat that produces vegetables like kale or lettuce.

These coats illustrate how the value of a particular piece is increasing over time, becoming more precious with each cycle of use. The project has a speculative character and aims to challenge the current linear consumer-oriented fashion system and the way we produce food. In the implementation of the project Tsapenko worked together with fungi expert Han Wösten of the research group Microbiology. For Wösten it is already the fourth time he has won this competition. "New lines of research emerge from art-inspired projects", says Wösten.

Click on the pictures to enlarge. Credit: Dasha Tsapenko

Bio Art & Design Award

The BAD Award is an annual international competition; this was the tenth edition. The aim is to allow artists and designers who graduated up to five years ago to experiment with bio-art and design and to push the boundaries of art and science. The BAD Award 2020 is an initiative of ZonMw, MU artspace and BioArt Laboratories. The prize is a stimulus for the rapidly growing group of young artists whose work focuses on exploring the new possibilities offered by the life sciences.

Each of the winners can spend a cash prize of 25,000 euros on realising their bio-art project in the coming months. Each BAD Award project is carried out in close collaboration with a Dutch research institute.