Beyond the Wait

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Exploring the Temporal Dimension of Digital Biofabrication with Kombucha SCOBY

Biofabrication is often regarded as a slow process involving long waiting times and approaches that hardly engage with time as a creative element. In this research project, I included the temporal dimension of digital biofabrication through crafting custom-made bioreactors to synthesize kombucha SCOBY. As SCOBY’s inherent flat morphology is often perceived to limit its functional applications in design, I presented the results of our systematic tinkering aiming at growing 3D morphologies to enhance its potential. Five biological growth mechanisms of SCOBY were identified and activated resulting in material prototypes exhibiting alternative morphological embodiments. My explorations unveil a design space that integrates the biological, physical, and temporal realms of digital biofabrication, which has been largely under-explored to date. Through fabrication showcases, the pictorial I wrote about the project offers designers a guide to explore the plural realms of SCOBY biofabrication to emphasize that ‘waiting time’ can open up design possibilities.