Healing Materialities

from a biodesign perspective

This website contains the open content of an ongoing research on material scenarios based on regenerative processes, including living materials and life-enabling materials, defining the boundaries of newly designed materialities where the final goal is to support life.

“Instead of doing less damage to the environment, it is necessary to learn how we can participate with the environment - using the health of ecological systems as the basis for design”  - Bill Reed, 2007 -


This study lies at the intersection between the constantly evolving concept of sustainability, the material design discipline and biodesign, aiming at defining biomaterials' abilities to restore resources, remediate the environment and introduce new cultures and ecologies of regenerative materialities.                               The following manifesto is a first attempt to define these materials' features, highlighting the healing potential of biomaterials.


A/B/C Manifesto - Pollini, 2021


Healing Materialities in conversation with...

Informal interviews on materials for and from living organisms - in chronological order

  • Maurizio Montalti (ENG)

    He is founder and creative director of Amsterdam-based practice Officina Corpuscoli (2010), where he investigates design-research subjects, reflecting on contemporary material culture as well as on the relationship between human and non-human agents, as part of the relational complexity of the dynamic ecosystem we all belong to. Working at the junction of design and biotech, Maurizio is one of the early pioneers committed to the study and development of wide-ranging mycelium-based technologies, focusing on the creation of innovative natural biomaterials and of the related artefacts and products. Maurizio is also co-founder, designer, and R&D director of Mogu, an innovation-driven design company dedicated to the creation of high-performance solutions and products deriving from fungi and the related fermentation-based processes. He has extensive educational experience, priorly co-heading the MAD Master (Materialisation in Art and Design) at Sandberg Instituut - Amsterdam, researching at Design Academy Eindhoven, and teaching, lecturing, and mentoring in various Dutch and international academies and universities. His work has been honoured with multiple awards, featured widely in the media, and exhibited globally in prestigious musea, galleries, and institutions, including Museum of Modern Art (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Design Museum (London), Triennale (Milano), MAXXI (Rome), and the Museum of Applied Arts (Vienna), among others.

    To cite this interview:
    Pollini, B. (2021). Healing Materialities in conversation with Maurizio Montalti. Retrieved (date), from https://healing-materialities.design/home/

    To know more about projects and articles quoted in this track:
    Officina Corpuscoli | dieDAS – Design Academy Saaleck | Mogu | Fungar
    Lucibello S. & Montalti M. (2020). Beyond Human: New Paradigms of Active Collaboration in Design. DIID, 72, 26–33

  • Carla Langella and Mariangela Stoppa (ITA)

    Carla Langella is an architect, PhD in Architectural Technology and associate professor in industrial design at the Department of Architecture and Industrial Design of the University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli" where she teaches Bio-innovation Design, Design for Scientific Visualization and Laboratory of Industrial Design. She has written numerous publications on the relationship between design and science, biomimicry and material design. Since 2006 she is heading the Hybrid Design Lab.

    Mariangela Stoppa is a designer, PhD in Architecture and Experimental Design. She is the founder and director of BioDesArt, an association that investigates new ideas of materials, processes, and products through a multidisciplinary approach to enhance the territories' identity, new emerging technologies, new scenarios, and sustainable lifestyles. She is also the founder, CEO and creative director of BioFaber, operating in the sector of new nanostructured biomaterials for biomedical and design industries, particularly bacterial nano cellulose obtained from fermentation processes of wastes from the food industry. Her activities received various awards and grants such as Principi Attivi 2012, Laboratori dal basso 2012, Start Cup Puglia 2013, Disegni + 3 and Disegni + 4.

    To cite this interview:
    Pollini, B. (2021). Healing Materialities in conversation with Carla Langella and Mariangela Stoppa. Retrieved (date), from https://healing-materialities.design/home/

    To know more about projects and articles quoted in this track:
    Carla Langella | www.hybriddesignlab.org
    Langella C (2007) Hybrid design. Progettare tra tecnologia e natura. Franco Angeli
    Langella C (2019) Design & scienza. List, Trento
    Mariangela Stoppa | biodesart.com | biofaber.com

  • Antoni Gandia (ENG)

    M.Sc. Cellular and Molecular Biology of Plants by the Polytechnic University of Valencia (2011), Antoni is a consultant and research scientist specialized in fermentation and fungal biotechnology that has worked in several biotechnology companies and organisations across continents such as Mogu Srl (2018-2021), Ecovative Design LLC (2016-2017), Mushroom Production Center MPC GmbH (2015), Mondo Mycologicals B.V. (2014-2015), and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München LMU (2013-2014). Antoni co-founded MIMOSA in 2020 with partners from California, UK, Germany and The Netherlands and currently embraced the responsibility of setting up a demo laboratory and a production pilot plant in Amsterdam.

    To cite this interview:
    Pollini, B. (2021). Healing Materialities in conversation with Antoni Gandia. Retrieved (date), from https://healing-materialities.design/home/

    To know more about projects and articles quoted in this track:
    Mediamatic | Ecovative | Mogu | Mimosa Therapeutics
    Adamatzky, A., Nikolaidou, A., Gandia, A., Chiolerio, A., & Dehshibi, M. M. (2021). Reactive fungal wearable. Bio Systems, 199, 104304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biosystems.2020.104304
    Gandia, A., Brandhof, J., Appels, F., & Jones, M. P. (2021). Flexible Fungal Materials: Shaping the Future. Trends in Biotechnology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2021.03.002
    Gandia, A., van den Brandhof, J. G., Appels, F. V. W., & Jones, M. P. (2021). Flexible Fungal Materials: Shaping the Future. Trends in Biotechnology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2021.03.002
    Gandia, A. (2015). Towards a human-fungal symbiosis: surviving the future. In Prototype Nature: Biologie als Startpunkt in Technologie, Kunst und Design für eine nachhaltigere Zukunft. Fraunhofer-Ge,sellschaft 10.24406/UMSICHT-N-531984

  • Marlene Huissoud (ENG)

    French experimental designer. After graduating with a BA in Textile Design from the National School of Design & Fine Art in Lyon in 2011, she received an MA in Material Futures from London's Central Saint Martins' School of Art and Design in 2014. In 2021 she has been selected by AD Italy among the 100 Game Changers for the innovation of the design practice.

    To cite this interview:
    Pollini, B. (2021). Healing Materialities in conversation with Marlene Huissoud. Retrieved (date), from https://healing-materialities.design/home/

    To know more about projects quoted in this track:

  • Martina Taranto (ENG)

    Italian designer, artist and innovator. Her approach to design is holistic and emerges from a background that goes from philosophy, semiotic, anthropology to engineering, biology, physics. 
    Her work and research gravitate around the necessity to find a compromise and a fluid dialogue between knowledge, human challenges and the environment. Martina’s practice combines critical design methods with magical elements. Through design, she aims to generate behavioural and ethical reactions, envision worlds made of synergies, enhance human intelligent sensibility in order to promote a world able to reach the ecological and ecosystemic balance and to support and foster social and natural justice.

    To cite this interview:
    Pollini, B. (2021). Healing Materialities in conversation with Martina Taranto. Retrieved (date), from https://healing-materialities.design/home/

    To know more about projects quoted in this track:

  • Bill Reed (ENG)

    Bill is an internationally recognized planning consultant, design process facilitator, lecturer, teacher, and author in sustainability and regeneration. He is a principal of Regenesis, Inc. – a regenerative design, living systems integrator, and education organization. His work focuses on creating the framework for and managing an integrative, whole and living system design process. This work is known as Regenerative Development.  He is a founding Board of Directors of the US Green Building Council and one of the co-founders of the LEED Green Building Rating System. In addition to being considered one of the leading thinkers in this field, Bill has consulted on over two hundred green design commissions – buildings and city master plans.

    To cite this interview:
    Pollini, B. (2022). Healing Materialities in conversation with Bill Reed. Retrieved (date), from https://healing-materialities.design/home/

    To know more about projects quoted in this track:

  • Nigel George (ENG)

    Nigel is co-founder of Artecology. Living and working out of Sandown Bay (Isle of Wight), Artecology is an eco-engineering design company crafting regenerative ecological environments for wildlife and human communities. In response to the climate crisis, sea level rise, habitat loss and biodiversity collapse, their approach focuses on creating novel ‘intentional habitats’ designed specifically for building biodiversity and bio-abundance. 

    To cite this interview:
    Pollini, B. (2023). Healing Materialities in conversation with Nigel George. Retrieved (date), from https://healing-materialities.design/home/

    To know more about Artecology projects and Nigel activities covered in this track:

  • Assia Crawford (ENG)

    Assia is an Assistant Professor in Technology at the College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Denver, whose creative practice research focuses on developing biological material alternatives and digital fabrication practices for a post-Anthropocene era. Her work sits on the intersection between architecture, science and critical theory and employs experimental and speculative design to address ecological challenges faced by communities at a time of environmental uncertainty.

    To cite this interview:
    Pollini, B. (2023). Healing Materialities in conversation with Assia Crawford. Retrieved (date), from https://healing-materialities.design/home/

    To know more about Assia's projects and articles quoted in this track:
    bbe.ac.uk/assia-stefanova | architectureandplanning.ucdenver.edu/our-people/person-profile/Crawford-Assia
    Crawford, A. (2022). Biodesign research in the Anthropocene (pp. 218–229). https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003174295-28

  • Tania Contardo (ENG)

    Tania is a researcher at the University of Brescia, Brescia (UNIBS). In 2013 she graduated in Natural Sciences in Milan, where she met the fascinating world of lichenology, an interest that led her to move to Siena to study Ecotoxicology and Environmental Sustainability and to deepen the methods of biomonitoring of air quality through lichens. On this research topic, in 2021, she obtained a PhD at the Department of Life Sciences (University of Siena) with a thesis entitled "Lichen biomonitoring technique for Environmental Justice Assessment and Risk perception assessment in a typical European city, Milan (Italy) ". She has been part of the Italian Lichenological Society since 2016, where she collaborates in the working group on Lichen Biomonitoring.

    To cite this interview:
    Pollini, B. (2023). Healing Materialities in conversation with Tania Contardo. Retrieved (date), from https://healing-materialities.design/home/

    To know more about Tania's research:
    Contardo, T., Giordani, P., Paoli, L., Vannini, A., & Loppi, S. (2018). May lichen biomonitoring of air pollution be used for environmental justice assessment? A case study from an area of N Italy with a municipal solid waste incinerator. Environmental Forensics, 19, 1–12. 

    BIO- > This prefix derives from the Greek root bio, which means "life" and gives rise mainly to words that describe the sciences of "life" (e.g., biology, whose etymology is "the science of life and living beings") | BIO-ART > Art forms that relate in some way to biology, biotechnology and life (Zurr & Catts, 2003) |  BIOAUGMENTED > Defined in reference to bioremediation techniques as the introduction of pregrown microbial cultures into a contaminated matrix (soil or other biotopes) to remove or reduce pollution (Comprehensive Biotechnology, 2011; Fantroussi & Agathos, 2005). Accordingly, when designers are looking at the possibility of using bioaugmentation techniques within a Biodesign approach, it is possible to talk about BIO-AUGMENTED DESIGN (Ramirez-Figueroa & Beckett, 2020) | BIO-BASED > of biological origin. BIO-BASED MATERIALS are materials made from renewable biological resources (van der Meer, 2017); in the context of the circular economy, a “Bio-based material or product” can also mean that is partly derived from biomaterials (European Environment Agency, 2018)  | BIOCOMPATIBILITY > Biologically non-toxic and not causing immune responses | BIODESIGN > “An emerging and often radical approach to design that draws on biological tenets and even incorporates the use of living materials into structures, objects, and tools” (Myers, 2012) | BIOFABRICATION > “The production of complex living and non-living biological products from raw materials such as living cells, molecules, extracellular matrices, and biomaterials” (Mironov et al., 2009), or more simply, "fabrication of materials by living organisms'' (Groll et al., 2016; Lee et al., 2020) |  BIOMATERIAL > In medicine, “biomaterial” means a substance engineered to interact with biological systems for a medical purpose, either a therapeutic or a diagnostic one. In design, its meaning is still loose; it may refer to “a substance that is naturally produced, for example by plants or insects, and can be used as a material for making things or as fuel” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2021). In the context of Circular Economy and Bioeconomy “biomaterials” are meant as “materials made of biological resources”  (European Environment Agency, 2018).  In Biodesign, this definition may be a synonym of “bio-based material” or may also refer to materials made “of, with, or from biology” (Ginsberg and Chieza, 2018); however, the more accepted and complete definition seems to date "BIOFABRICATED MATERIAL" (Lee et al., 2020; see also BIOFABRICATION)  | BIOPHILIA > The innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world (Wilson 1984). The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm stated in 1964 that Biophilia is an orientation associated with “love for neighbour and love of life” (Söderlund, 2019). In architecture and design, the concept of BIOPHILIC DESIGN is used to describe increased connectivity among humans and natural agents through the direct or indirect use of nature. | BIORECEPTIVITY > “The aptitude of a material (or any other inanimate object) to be colonized by one or several groups of living organisms” (Guillitte, 1995)  |  BIORECEPTIVE DESIGN > Cruz and Beckett (2016) were among the first to state a clear connection between design and bioreceptivity in the field of architecture, defining “bioreceptive design as a new material phenomenon that is changing the environmental and biologically-integrated performativity of architecture”. Recently, in an attempt to extend this definition to design, Pollini and Rognoli (2021) proposed a more inclusive definition concerning the type of organisms, environments, and applications involved, stating that bioreceptive design can occur whenever a “material/artefact is intentionally designed to be colonized by life forms”.  |  BIOTA  > The animal and plant life of a particular region, habitat, or geological period (Oxford Dictionary). Ecosystems comprise BIOTIC and ABIOTIC factors: biotic refers to all the living parts of an ecosystem, and abiotic refers to all the non-living parts.  | BIOTINKERING  > Tinkering with biology (DIYbio code, 2011) | ECOSYSTEM > An ecosystem or biome describes a single environment and every living (biotic) organism and non-living (abiotic) factor that is contained within it or characterizes it. An ecosystem embodies every aspect of a single habitat, including all interactions between its different elements (biologydictionary.net) | GROWING DESIGN > Defined as a design that arises "from a context of several approaches that cross-fertilize biology and design” (Myers, 2012), and ”a design practice in which designers grow materials from living organisms" (Karana et al., 2018) | LIFE-ENABLING MATERIAL > Material especially designed to support life - e.g. bioreceptive materials - (Pollini and Rognoli, 2021)  |  MATERIAL ECOLOGY > “An emerging field in design denoting informed relations between products, buildings, systems, and the environment" (Oxman, 2010). “Defined as the study and design of products and processes integrating environmentally aware computational form-generation and digital fabrication” (Oxman, 2013) |  MICROBIOME-INSPIRED GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE (MIGI) > “green infrastructure designed to optimize both the diversity and beneficial assemblages of microbiota for the benefit of human and ecosystem health" (Watkins et al., 2020)  | SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY > "The design and construction of novel artificial pathways, organisms, and devices or the redesign of existing natural biological systems" (The Royal Society, 2016)  | SYNTROPHY > The biological phenomenon of one specie feeding on the metabolic products of another specie, also known as cross-feeding | REGENERATIVE DESIGN > “A system of technologies and strategies, based on the understanding of the inner working of ecosystems that generates designs that regenerate socio-ecological wholes (i.e., generate a new their inherent capacity for vitality, viability, and evolution) rather than deplete their underlying life support systems and resources.” (Mang and Reed, 2017)  |  WHITE BIOTECHNOLOGY > Biotechnology is a vast area embracing different sectors distinguished through color-coding (Kafarski, 2012). White Biotechnology addresses the use of living cells (e.g., yeasts, molds, bacteria, plants) and enzymes to synthesize products at an industrial scale; it is also known as INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY (Ribeiro et al., 2015)  |  >> Ongoing



    Rognoli V., Alessandrini L., Pollini B. (2023). From food waste to circular materials for design: experimenting with unconventional sources. In Design, Materials and Making for Social Change. Routledge.

    Papile F., Bolzan P. , Parisi S., Pollini B. (2023). Perceiving Grown Bacterial Cellulose. An aesthetic and sensorial evaluation of a bio-fabricated material. Duarte E., Di Roma A. (Eds) (2023). Developments in Design Research and Practice II Subtitle: Best Papers from 11th Senses and Sensibility 2021: Designing Next Genera(c)tions. Springer Heidelberg, Tiergartenstr. 17, 69121 Heidelberg, Germany. 

    Pollini, B., & Jimenez, J. (2022). Teaching sustainability through materials: bridging circular materials and Biodesign for new design curricula. Chapter in: Education for Sustainability approaching SGD 4 and target 4.7. Lens Colombia and Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Medellín, Colombia. http://doi.org/10.18566/978-628-500-077-5

    Rognoli V., Parisi S., Pollini B., Taranto M., Ayala-Garcia C. (2022). DIY-Materials approach to design meaningful materials for the ecological transition. Chapter in: Education for Sustainability approaching SGD 4 and target 4.7. Lens Colombia and Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Medellín, Colombia. http://doi.org/10.18566/978-628-500-077-5

    Rognoli V., Petreca B., Pollini B., Saito C., (2022). Materials biography as a tool for designers’ exploration of bio-based and bio-fabricated materials for the sustainable fashion industry. In Sustainable redesign of the global fashion system; SUSTAINABILITY, Science, Practice, Policy. Taylor and Francis. https://doi.org/10.1080/15487733.2022.2124740

    Pollini, B. (2021). Project 13—Healing materialities from a biodesign perspective. In O. Pedgley, V. Rognoli, & E. Karana (Eds.), Materials Experience 2 (pp. 167–170). Butterworth-Heinemann. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-819244-3.00008-9

    Rognoli, V., Pollini, B., & Alessandrini, L. (2021). Design materials for the transition towards post-Anthropocene. In FROM HUMAN-CENTERED TO MORE-THAN-HUMAN DESIGN Exploring the transition; edited by Barbara Camocini and Francesco Vergani. (pp. 101–130). Franco Angeli.

    Pollini, B., & Rognoli, V. (2021). Early-stage material selection based on life cycle approach: Tools, obstacles and opportunities for design. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 28, 1130–1139. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2021.07.014

    Pollini, B., & Rognoli, V. (2021). Enhancing living/non-living relationships through designed materials. CEES 2021 - International Conference on Construction, Energy, Environment and Sustainability. Editor: Itecons - Instituto de Investigação e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico para a Construção, Energia, Ambiente e Sustentabilidade. ISBN: 978-989-54499-1-0

    Pollini, B. (2021). Sustainable design, biomimicry and biomaterials: exploring interactivity, connectivity and smartness in Nature. Chapter in: Rognoli, V., Ferraro, V (Eds.), “ICS Materials: interactive, connected, and smart materials”, Franco Angeli, Milano.

    Pollini B., & Angelini, A. (2021). Signs of livingness in design material[itie]s. Abstract Book, 21st Annual International Gatherings in Biosemiotics, p.36, Stockholm, Sweden. 

    Rognoli V., Ayala-Garcia C., Pollini B. (2021). DIY Recipes. Ingredients, Processes and Materials Qualities. Chapter in: Clèries L., Rognoli V., Solanki S. e Llorach P. (Eds.), “Material Designers. Boosting talent towards circular economies”, Elisava School of Design and Engineering, Barcelona. 

    Pollini B., Lavagna M., Rognoli V. (2020). LCA-based material selection in the early stages of design: environmental benefits, tools, obstacles and opportunities. IX Conference of the Italian LCA Network Association, Cortina d'Ampezzo (BL).

    Pollini B., Pietroni L., Mascitti J., Paciotti D. (2020). Towards a new material culture. bio-inspired design, parametric modeling, material design, digital manufacture. In Perriccioli M., Rigillo M., Russo Ermolli S., Tucci F., Design in the Digital Age. Technology, Nature, Culture (pp. 208-212). Bologna: Politecnica University Press, Maggioli editore.



    Open access | Education for Sustainability approaching SDG 4 and target 4.7, 2022

    Open access | From Human-centered to More-than-Human-Design. Exploring the transition, 2021

    Conference Abstract Book  | 21st Annual International Gatherings in Biosemiotics, 2021


    Open access | MaDe book #DIY-Matrials #CircularMaterials, 2021

    Open access | Understanding Bio Material Innovations. A primer for the fashion industry, 2020

    Open access | Emerging Materials & Technologies, 2020

    Conference Proceedings  | Alive. Active. Adaptive, 2017

    About Healing Materialities

    The contents of this website are part of the doctoral research carried out by Barbara Pollini at the Polytechnic University of Milan. Barbara concluded her PhD in June 2023 as part of the Material Design for Transition research group, headed by Professor Valentina Rognoli. The research was funded by Politecnico's PhD scholarship. Barbara has collaborated with various life sciences experts and scientific laboratories in Italy and abroad, which has made this research path unique thanks to an extremely rich research through the design phase.

    For details about this PhD research and the related research through design projects, please write to barbara.pollini@polimi.it