Healing materialities.

Barbara Pollini

PhD student in Design, Design Department, School of Design - Polytechnic University of Milan


The last decade has seen the emergence of Biodesign, a radical approach based on the integration of living organisms as functional components in the design process. This design approach has led to the experimentation of materials made of or with living organisms, showing promising sustainable features. However, in line with the concept of regenerative design, which sees sustainability as a neutral point of not doing any damage, these materials seem to have the right features to be framed in a context of restorative, reconciliatory and regenerative design. 

Trying to frame materials made from/with living organisms in the context of sustainability, the conceptual framework of Healing Materialities emerged to describe biomaterials' restorative abilities, associated not only with sustainability but also to the ability of living materials to design and establish relationships with the environment, the designers and the final users (see A/B/C Manifesto). These features can be designed both on a material level (designing the material or with it) and on a behavioural change level (designing interspecies relationships), thus translating the concept of regenerative design on material and narrative level.

Bioinspired by explorative networks occurring in nature, the research approach embraces the concept of rhizomatic knowledge, allowing for multiple, non-hierarchical structure of information, and showing great potential in tackling complex sustainability issues.


Research & observatory platform: healing-materialitites.design


Barbara Pollini is a PhD candidate in design at the Polytechnic University of Milan. 

With a master in Ecodesign and Eco-innovation and a MA in Computational Design, since 2010, she's dealing with sustainable design and materials as a designer, educator and researcher. Since 2014 she has been investigating sustainable materials, focusing on the relationship between materials and design for sustainability from different perspectives (circular materials, biomaterials, made in waste materials and growing materials). 

For her doctoral research, she is dealing with biodesign, an approach arising from the intersection between design, biology and technology, focusing on how living matters can redefine key sustainable aspects for future productions.