Biodesign Practices : An Experiment on the Epigenetic Limits of the Bombyx Mori


Organized living-matter (organisms) represent a remarkable form of dualism, a dualism partly physical and partly metaphysical and it arises from the fact that organisms possess both a genotype and a phenotype. Although the genotype contains all the information for an organism’s existence, it is how its constituting-matter behaves while interacting with environmental factors that defines its phenotype. These phenotypic properties (environmental dependent properties) are seen as important as the genotypic properties in the taxonomy of a specific species. Therefore, what a living-system will be can be partially defined by the designer as its phenotype is defined by the way the base substance interacts with environmental factors. This paper presents a biodesign experiment that was conducted to condition the Bombyx Mori’s genotype by putting pressure on its environment to explore its sense of adaptation. The primary aim of this experiment is to test the epigenetic limits of the living-system by introducing different geometric alternatives to spin the silk instead of building cocoons. This way, we test a cross-species collaborative approach to introduce an alternative to existing sericulture practices. This paper presents a biodesign experiment where bombyx’s genotype is conditioned by putting pressure on its environment to explore the potential that resides in its sense of adaptation. Design of surfaces and structures created to make this experiment successful were primarily aimed at changing these parameters; as the epigenetic limits of the living-system are tested with different geometric alternatives.


Derya Irkdas Dogu
Lecturer, Industrial Design, İzmir University of Economics, Turkey


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—New Agendas for Design: Principles of Scale, Practices of Inclusion


Biodesign, Bombyx Mori, Cross-species, Design methods

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