Synthetic Aesthetics is a new program to bring synthetic biologists together with designers and artists. Apply now to get a grant that could help you become a better designer of living things.

Sponsored by science agencies in the US and the UK, Synthetic Aesthetics will bring together six artists and six scientists for a month-long international program. Here's what the program website says:

Synthetic Biology is a new approach to engineering biology, generally defined as the application of engineering principles (for instance, standardization and modularity) to the complexity of biology. Biology has become a new material for engineering - a new technology for design and construction.

As with more traditional engineers, synthetic biologists are deeply concerned with ‘design'. Design has long been the source of collaboration between engineers and designers. In this project, Synthetic Aesthetics, we will explore shared territory between design and synthetic biology, invite exchange of existing skills and approaches, and make possible the development of new forms of craft and collaboration.

Can collaborations between synthetic biology and design inform and shape the developing field of synthetic biology-the engineering of new and existing biological entities for useful means? What insights can design offer in designing microscopic entities for a human-scale world? Can design learn from synthetic biology?

Synthetic Aesthetics is a research project jointly run by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Stanford University, California. Drawing together synthetic biologists, social scientists, designers, artists, and other creative practitioners, we intend to explore existing and potential collaborations between synthetic biology and the creative professions.

The deadline to apply is March 31, so hurry up! Application materials are here.


You can see an example of how nature might be synthesized if you look at Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg's project Growth Assembly, created with Sacha Pohflepp and illustrated gorgeously by Sion Ap Tomos. Their idea was to imagine what it would take to design a dispenser for herbicide that was made entirely from parts grown on plants.