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Dancing to a Cabbage Symphony

It starts with, say, dropping biology at A-level. Then, perhaps, the dust begins to collect on the shelf of popular science books. Finally, the apprehension of “not my thing” settles in, until not even the soothing tones of David Attenborough can shift it.

Modern life likes to put academic disciplines in boxes. So what happens when we wrench the lids off, and bring design to bear on a scientific field?

If the projects on display at the RCA's Biodesign exhibition are anything to go by, things get weird. Gloriously weird. Symphonies-about-cabbage weird.


Teams of art and design students from across the RCA are taking part in Biodesign Challenge, an international competition that seeks to build relationships between designers and scientists. One winning team will present and exhibit their work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York later this month.

This Thursday til Sunday, you can drop in to White City Place and see the work of all seven groups. Here's a preview of the ideas you'll find:

Wear the contents of the compost bin. Part practical solution, part activism, Pulpe proposes a kitchen appliance for every eco-friendly family that presses mulched food waste into modular clothing. Will the team attend the opening wearing their creations? We hope so.

Pulpe RCA White City PLace Biodesign

Pulpe RCA White City PLace Biodesign

Nail down the problem of flying food once and for all. How long until space travel is commonplace enough to support an ecosystem of food fads? Bad news for anyone who'd rather leave that viral video stuff on earth: Tasty Space are planning ahead with this tortilla-inspired flying saucer plate.

Tasty Space RCA Biodesign White City Place

Listen to the inner life of a cabbage. The Food Symphony team promise “an entire new point of view on cabbage,” inspired by scanning food with a pocket spectrometer. The team have collaborated with a sound artist on Cabbage Symphony, to be followed by The Cabbage Metamorphosis quintet.

Connect every house to a fungal network. Mycelium is the earth's natural internet, say Mycotopia, so why not use it to link window-boxes on every balcony and share nutrients? You may unleash a fungal force you can't control, but at least the tomatoes will be really delicious this year.

RCA White City Place Biodesign mycotopia

Define food beyond earth. Food doesn't just keep us alive, it's also the glue of cultural resilience, argue the team behind Gastronauts. Here they imagine the culinary habits of a Mars colony of the future and ponder how to make fast one from Martian beer.

Become lord of the flies. About 30% of pollination already happens through the inadvertent blundering of flies, rather than bees' intentional pollen collection. The POM team plan to orchestrate waves of flies through the strategic placement of aphid distress hormones. 

POM RCA White City place biodesign

Fit a Fitbit to your gut. Listen carefully to the rumbling of your tummy, and who knows what it might teach you about your health? Microsonic have designed a belt that can hear.

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