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Material Incubator

Powered by Caradt, MNEXT and Delft University of Technology

Material Incubator [MI] is a creative research lab that explores the potentials of materials from living organisms for an alternative notion of the everyday.

Over the last decade, we have seen increasing evidence for art and design input positively contributing to the development of new materials in collaborative projects. However, the collaboration between creative industries and science communities remains challenging. Professionals from both research and practice list diverse reasons behind this situation, including, lack of a common language and methodologies to support collaborative projects, or lack of common lab space to host researchers from diverse backgrounds as equal partners in the collaborative material development. Artists and designers are often ‘visitors’ in the ‘science’ labs, where scientists have still the utmost ‘power’ on the steps to take for materials development. In such projects where ‘science’ pushes, the utmost attention goes to the over-specification of materials to improve ‘performance,’ mostly concerning ‘durability,’ while “materials offer more” when creatives are allowed to explore their potentials freely.

Over the last years, the number of bio-labs which invites artist and designers for residencies or collaborative projects have increased noticeably. Next to that, we observe an increasing number of open wet-lab spaces which provide machinery and know-how for bio-artists and designers. In January 2020 we opened the doors of our own biodesign research lab, namely Material Incubator, which capitalizes on the role of artistic practice in unlocking the unique potentials of living organisms for everyday materials and communicating them to a broader public, to accelerate their widespread understanding and further development.

The [Mi] lab facility has been particularly designed and equipped for tinkering and researching with and through “living organisms.”

Located in the massive building of St. Joost School of Art & Design in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands, and positioned between various material workshops and maker spaces, the [MI] lab offers an inspirational environment for researchers and a specious setting for prototyping of large-scale research artefacts.

The Lab consists of two separate working spaces, which we name as the ‘small’ and the ‘large’ room.
In the small room, we conduct experiments which are highly sensitive to ‘contamination’. This room is only used by our expert researchers and graduation students who are under guidance of one of our researchers. The use of the small room is led by the researchers from our lab partner MNEXT Centre of Expertise (Avans University). The large room has a relatively bigger space to host 3-4 researchers simultaneously and to give workshops to relatively bigger groups.

The [MI] Lab consists of:

  • a Laminar Flow Cabinet which is an enclosed bench designed to prevent contamination to biological samples, or any particle sensitive materials;
  • the Autoclaves in 2 different sizes that are meant to sterilize equipment and supplies by subjecting them to pressurized saturated steam 121 °C;
  • an Incubator to provide optimal humidity and temperature to maintain microbiological cultures and nurture its growth;
  • a Fume hood, which is a type of local ventilation device that is designed to limit exposure to hazardous or toxic fumes, vapors or dusts;
  • a large industrial oven with an adjustable electronic over temperature monitor that allows to dry material samples in an efficient and effective manner;
  • a AW Water Meter which enables us to monitor the amount of water activity products to ensure on safety and predict shelf life storage;
  • a Freeze Dryer which results in a high-quality material samples because of the low temperature used in processing. The original shape of the material after growth is maintained and quality of the rehydrated product is excellent and perfect for biological materials.

Apart from these, our lab is equipped with basic lab equipment’s and domestic appliances to tinker with materials.

Join us in this journey of discovery, creation, and collaboration. Unleash your potential, and let’s redefine the future together. For more information: contact the Caradt Office (caradt@avans.nl).