R&D Pupa

An experiment in biotechnical design

Emerging organically from the curation of our exhibition, ‘Material Change’, at London Design Festival 2023, Pupa is a new design experiment in biotechnical design. 

The design explores circular economy principles by making use of natural bio-based and technical waste-capturing materials that can be returned to respective biological and technical cycles at end-of-life.

Organic forms via off-screen play

This project emerged from a playful, off-screen process that allowed us to evolve organic forms through the act of making by hand. 

The result is a formal experiment in biotechnical design. Pupa lives at the intersection of the natural world and advanced technology – between regenerative materials such as timber and twine and manufacturing techniques such as 3D knitting and additive manufacturing. 

Collaborating with 3D knit specialists Camira, Pupa’s fabric is made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester that includes 75% SEAQUAL Yarn, made from marine plastics.

Iterative flow and transformation

Rapid prototyping within our iterative design process allowed the studio to test and refine Pupa within a matter of weeks. The result is somewhere between sculptural play and commercial function. The dissonance between these mindsets resulted in a new expression for the studio.

The material components exist in tension to create a structural organic system. By offsetting the direction of each rib through experimentation, Pearson Lloyd created helical fabric planes. 

Pupa’s current form explores lighting functions but future transformations could include acoustic absorption. The studio will continue to play with Pupa to find applications that demonstrate how biotechnical design can promote circular principles at scale.