BAJ Podcast | Ecological Service Jewellery

When considering alternative approaches to materials and making, you may come across Bio-design, which can be understood as a means to incorporate the inherent life-conducive principles of biological living systems into the design and making process – and this in order to move towards a more sustainable and caring future. If we want to become more empathic towards our environment, so we can co-create, collaborate with non-humans whilst constructing and most importantly improving our context, wouldn’t it be important we gain an understanding of these living systems first? What does the world feel like to a tree? And can jewellery provide an ecological service to our environment? Someone who has asked themselves these very questions, and many more questions in relation to the topic of bio-design, is researcher, designer and artist Yuning Chen. Join us in this episode, where she tells us more about her career, practice and the materials she’s been investigating as part of her projects.

About the speaker

Yuning Chen is a PhD student working at the intersection of HCI/design and emerging biotechnologies on the ethics of co-creating with more-than-human living organisms at Design Informatics, University of Edinburgh.

More specifically, she is interested in exploring the notions of resistance, labour and political agency of more-than-human organisms through methods of research through design (RtD), critical design, autoethnography and artistic practice. She has established a wide collaboration network across different fields of biology, such as clinical microbiology at Radboud University, synthetic biology with Centre for Engineering Biology and plant biology/biomimicry in The Biological Form and Function Lab, Imperial College.

In her recent paper Microbial Revolt, she analyses embedded forms of more-than-human oppression in the design of biolab devices, laboratory norms and regulations as well as the epistemic tension between biology and design. Her practice has been recognised by prestigious organisations such as Honorary Mention in ST+ARTS Awards, Falling Walls Finalist on Scientific Breakthrough of the Year, and Finalist of Bio Art and Design Award 2023. Her works have also exhibited internationally such as at the London Design Festival, Dutch Design Week, Edinburgh Science Festival and Bozar Centre of Fine Art. Her latest work can be found at

Listen to this Jewellery Podcast episode here on Spotify.

See all the BAJ Jewellery Podcast episodes here.

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