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  • Two twin domes,

  • two radically opposed design cultures.

  • One is made of thousands of steel parts,

  • the other of a single silk thread.

  • One is synthetic, the other organic.

  • One is imposed on the environment,

  • the other creates it.

  • One is designed for nature, the other is designed by her.

  • Michelangelo said that when he looked at raw marble,

  • he saw a figure struggling to be free.

  • The chisel was Michelangelo's only tool.

  • But living things are not chiseled.

  • They grow.

  • And in our smallest units of life, our cells, we carry all the information

  • that's required for every other cell to function and to replicate.

  • Tools also have consequences.

  • At least since the Industrial Revolution, the world of design has been dominated

  • by the rigors of manufacturing and mass production.

  • Assembly lines have dictated a world made of parts,

  • framing the imagination of designers and architects

  • who have been trained to think about their objects as assemblies

  • of discrete parts with distinct functions.

  • But you don't find homogenous material assemblies in nature.

  • Take human skin, for example.

  • Our facial skins are thin with large pores.

  • Our back skins are thicker, with small pores.

  • One acts mainly as filter,

  • the other mainly as barrier,

  • and yet it's the same skin: no parts, no assemblies.

  • It's a system that gradually varies its functionality

  • by varying elasticity.

  • So here this is a split screen to represent my split world view,

  • the split personality of every designer and architect operating today

  • between the chisel and the gene,

  • between machine and organism, between assembly and growth,

  • between Henry Ford and Charles Darwin.

  • These two worldviews, my left brain and right brain,

  • analysis and synthesis, will play out on the two screens behind me.

  • My work, at its simplest level,

  • is about uniting these two worldviews,

  • moving away from assembly

  • and closer into growth.

  • You're probably asking yourselves:

  • Why now?

  • Why was this not possible 10 or even five years ago?

  • We live in a very special time in history,

  • a rare time,

  • a time when the confluence of four fields is giving designers access to tools

  • we've never had access to before.

  • These fields are computational design,

  • allowing us to design complex forms with simple code;

  • additive manufacturing, letting us produce parts

  • by adding material rather than carving it out;

  • materials engineering, which lets us design the behavior of materials

  • in high resolution;

  • and synthetic biology,

  • enabling us to design new biological functionality by editing DNA.

  • And at the intersection of these four fields,

  • my team and I create.

  • Please meet the minds and hands

  • of my students.

  • We design objects and products and structures and tools across scales,

  • from the large-scale,

  • like this robotic arm with an 80-foot diameter reach

  • with a vehicular base that will one day soon print entire buildings,

  • to nanoscale graphics made entirely of genetically engineered microorganisms

  • that glow in the dark.

  • Here we've reimagined the mashrabiya,

  • an archetype of ancient Arabic architecture,

  • and created a screen where every aperture is uniquely sized

  • to shape the form of light and heat moving through it.

  • In our next project,

  • we explore the possibility of creating a cape and skirt --

  • this was for a Paris fashion show with Iris van Herpen --

  • like a second skin that are made of a single part,

  • stiff at the contours, flexible around the waist.

  • Together with my long-term 3D printing collaborator Stratasys,

  • we 3D-printed this cape and skirt with no seams between the cells,

  • and I'll show more objects like it.

  • This helmet combines stiff and soft materials

  • in 20-micron resolution.

  • This is the resolution of a human hair.

  • It's also the resolution of a CT scanner.

  • That designers have access

  • to such high-resolution analytic and synthetic tools,

  • enables to design products that fit not only the shape of our bodies,

  • but also the physiological makeup of our tissues.

  • Next, we designed an acoustic chair,

  • a chair that would be at once structural, comfortable

  • and would also absorb sound.

  • Professor Carter, my collaborator, and I turned to nature for inspiration,

  • and by designing this irregular surface pattern,

  • it becomes sound-absorbent.

  • We printed its surface out of 44 different properties,

  • varying in rigidity, opacity and color,

  • corresponding to pressure points on the human body.

  • Its surface, as in nature, varies its functionality

  • not by adding another material or another assembly,

  • but by continuously and delicately varying material property.

  • But is nature ideal?

  • Are there no parts in nature?

  • I wasn't raised in a religious Jewish home,

  • but when I was young,

  • my grandmother used to tell me stories from the Hebrew Bible,

  • and one of them stuck with me and came to define much of what I care about.

  • As she recounts:

  • "On the third day of Creation, God commands the Earth

  • to grow a fruit-bearing fruit tree."

  • For this first fruit tree, there was to be no differentiation

  • between trunk, branches, leaves and fruit.

  • The whole tree was a fruit.

  • Instead, the land grew trees that have bark and stems and flowers.

  • The land created a world made of parts.

  • I often ask myself,

  • "What would design be like if objects were made of a single part?

  • Would we return to a better state of creation?"

  • So we looked for that biblical material,

  • that fruit-bearing fruit tree kind of material, and we found it.

  • The second-most abundant biopolymer on the planet is called chitin,

  • and some 100 million tons of it are produced every year

  • by organisms such as shrimps, crabs, scorpions and butterflies.

  • We thought if we could tune its properties,

  • we could generate structures that are multifunctional

  • out of a single part.

  • So that's what we did.

  • We called Legal Seafood --

  • (Laughter)

  • we ordered a bunch of shrimp shells,

  • we grinded them and we produced chitosan paste.

  • By varying chemical concentrations,

  • we were able to achieve a wide array of properties --

  • from dark, stiff and opaque,

  • to light, soft and transparent.

  • In order to print the structures in large scale,

  • we built a robotically controlled extrusion system with multiple nozzles.

  • The robot would vary material properties on the fly

  • and create these 12-foot-long structures made of a single material,

  • 100 percent recyclable.

  • When the parts are ready, they're left to dry

  • and find a form naturally upon contact with air.

  • So why are we still designing with plastics?

  • The air bubbles that were a byproduct of the printing process

  • were used to contain photosynthetic microorganisms

  • that first appeared on our planet 3.5 billion year ago,

  • as we learned yesterday.

  • Together with our collaborators at Harvard and MIT,

  • we embedded bacteria that were genetically engineered

  • to rapidly capture carbon from the atmosphere

  • and convert it into sugar.

  • For the first time,

  • we were able to generate structures that would seamlessly transition

  • from beam to mesh,

  • and if scaled even larger, to windows.

  • A fruit-bearing fruit tree.

  • Working with an ancient material,

  • one of the first lifeforms on the planet,

  • plenty of water and a little bit of synthetic biology,

  • we were able to transform a structure made of shrimp shells

  • into an architecture that behaves like a tree.

  • And here's the best part:

  • for objects designed to biodegrade,

  • put them in the sea, and they will nourish marine life;

  • place them in soil, and they will help grow a tree.

  • The setting for our next exploration using the same design principles

  • was the solar system.

  • We looked for the possibility of creating life-sustaining clothing

  • for interplanetary voyages.

  • To do that, we needed to contain bacteria and be able to control their flow.

  • So like the periodic table, we came up with our own table of the elements:

  • new lifeforms that were computationally grown,

  • additively manufactured

  • and biologically augmented.

  • I like to think of synthetic biology as liquid alchemy,

  • only instead of transmuting precious metals,

  • you're synthesizing new biological functionality inside very small channels.

  • It's called microfluidics.

  • We 3D-printed our own channels in order to control the flow

  • of these liquid bacterial cultures.

  • In our first piece of clothing, we combined two microorganisms.

  • The first is cyanobacteria.

  • It lives in our oceans and in freshwater ponds.

  • And the second, E. coli, the bacterium that inhabits the human gut.

  • One converts light into sugar, the other consumes that sugar

  • and produces biofuels useful for the built environment.

  • Now, these two microorganisms never interact in nature.

  • In fact, they never met each other.

  • They've been here, engineered for the first time,

  • to have a relationship inside a piece of clothing.

  • Think of it as evolution not by natural selection,

  • but evolution by design.

  • In order to contain these relationships,

  • we've created a single channel that resembles the digestive tract,

  • that will help flow these bacteria and alter their function along the way.

  • We then started growing these channels on the human body,

  • varying material properties according to the desired functionality.

  • Where we wanted more photosynthesis, we would design more transparent channels.

  • This wearable digestive system, when it's stretched end to end,

  • spans 60 meters.

  • This is half the length of a football field,

  • and 10 times as long as our small intestines.

  • And here it is for the first time unveiled at TED --

  • our first photosynthetic wearable,

  • liquid channels glowing with life inside a wearable clothing.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • Mary Shelley said, "We are unfashioned creatures, but only half made up."

  • What if design could provide that other half?

  • What if we could create structures that would augment living matter?

  • What if we could create personal microbiomes

  • that would scan our skins, repair damaged tissue

  • and sustain our bodies?

  • Think of this as a form of edited biology.

  • This entire collection, Wanderers, that was named after planets,

  • was not to me really about fashion per se,

  • but it provided an opportunity to speculate about the future

  • of our race on our planet and beyond,

  • to combine scientific insight with lots of mystery

  • and to move away from the age of the machine

  • to a new age of symbiosis between our bodies,

  • the microorganisms that we inhabit,

  • our products and even our buildings.

  • I call this material ecology.

  • To do this, we always need to return back to nature.

  • By now, you know that a 3D printer prints material in layers.

  • You also know that nature doesn't.

  • It grows. It adds with sophistication.

  • This silkworm cocoon, for example,

  • creates a highly sophisticated architecture,

  • a home inside which to metamorphisize.

  • No additive manufacturing today gets even close to this level of sophistication.

  • It does so by combining not two materials,

  • but two proteins in different concentrations.

  • One acts as the structure, the other is the glue, or the matrix,

  • holding those fibers together.

  • And this happens across scales.

  • The silkworm first attaches itself to the environment --

  • it creates a tensile structure --

  • and it then starts spinning a compressive cocoon.

  • Tension and compression, the two forces of life,

  • manifested in a single material.

  • In order to better understand how this complex process works,

  • we glued a tiny earth magnet

  • to the head of a silkworm, to the spinneret.

  • We placed it inside a box with magnetic sensors,

  • and that allowed us to create this 3-dimensional point cloud

  • and visualize the complex architecture of the silkworm cocoon.

  • However, when we placed the silkworm on a flat patch,