From BioDesign for the Real-World
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BIO-DESIGN for the REAL WORLD explores how biology and biotechnology can be designed within social contexts.

As a powerful technological medium after industrial and digital revolutions, implementation and design solutions for biology and biotechnology must reflect a diversity of voices to be meaningful in society, not only to be guided by concerns of a few.

Real world problems

BIO-DESIGN for the REAL WORLD is a transdisciplinary and collaborative research project. We ask what is good design in biology and biotechnology by going through design cycles to define, build, and field-test prototypes that require the integration of wetware, hardware, and software to visualise and address real world water problems.

Our current projects derived from our common and local focus on water.

Horizontal exchange

The project is a partnership between (Art)ScienceBLR with design students from the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, (Bangalore, India) the Lifepatch citizen initiative in art, science and technology (Yogyakarta, Indonesia), and students at the School of Life Sciences at EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland where we are housed in Hackuarium). We collaborate closely with National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS, Bangalore India), and Microbiology Laboratory of Agriculture Faculty of Universitas Gadjah Mada (Yogyakarta, Indonesia).

Open approach

We follow the open process – CC BY-SA 3.0 and a do-it-yourself (DIY) and do-it-with-others DIWO) approach.
We actively share and test our work through workshops.
Our documentation can be found here on the project wiki and we share our code and designs on github and our research and process through videos and links.

Our history

BIO-DESIGN for the REAL WORLD started as an idea in the hackterialab 2011 in Romainmôtier in Switzerland. We are part of the hackteria network. Check out Hackteria’s wiki pages for other open source bio art | DIY biology | generic lab equipment projects and designs.

The project name BIO- “Design for the Real World” was inspired by Victor Papanek’s book “Design for the Real World”. Our design approach and principles of socially and environmentally responsible design was articulated well-before this project was conceived.

The project was launched with support by the CoDEV SEED grant from EPFL (2.2013-12.2014).

Other places you can find us

The Core

In Switzerland:

  • EPFL page - This is the EPFL project page for Biodesign for the Real World.
  • van der Meer Lab at UNIL, with which we collaborate on the bioreporters

In Indonesia:

  • lifepatch.org - Lifepatch is a citizens initiative in art, science, and technology based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. They are one of the three partners of the Biodesign for the Real World project.
  • The Jogjya River Project - This is the project page in English, of Lifepatch's Jogjya River Project.

In India:

  • (art)scienceBLR is based in Bangalore, India and is one of the three partners of the Biodesign for the Real World project.

  • Hackteria - We are part of the greater hackteria network. Hackteria is a webplatform and collection of Open Source Biological Art Projects, as well as an loosely knit globally active network of practitioners who collaborate and contribute to the hackteria projects.
  • Hackuarium - A biohacker space in Renens, Switzerland, where we are part of the community in the Lausanne and surrounding area.

Our Links - Slides - Videos


Here is a list of direct funding biodesign for the real world has received for our activities.
Other funding related to hosting events are noted in each of the event sub-pages.

With the funding from EPFL's CoDEV SEED Money Program (2013-2014), Lifepatch and (Art)ScienceBLR have infrastructure to support biology experiments.
In Lausanne, we are housed at hackuarium for our wetlab, and P1 activities are carried out at EPFL and/or UNIL.

Year Source Details Documentation
2014 - 2015 Zeno Karl Schindler Foundation Partial salary, materials for Thomas Vetterli Proposal, Final Report
2014 - 2015 EPFL CoDEV SEED Money Program For IN, ID, and CH Proposal, Final Report
2014 SNSF International Exploratory Workshop Grant IZ32Z0_155308 Water Hackathon: Open Source Technologies for Rivers, Oceans and Lakes
For inviting participants for the Tech4Dev Waterhackathon
Proposal, Final Report
2013 - 2014 EPFL CoDEV SEED Money Program For IN, ID, and CH Proposal, Final Report Financial Summary

Press Kit

The biodesign logos can be downloaded here. Designed by Adhari Donora aka antirender of Lifepatch.

Bioreporter FAQ


  • in vivo magazine article Science off the Beaten Path by E. Freudenreich IN VIVO magazine - Think Health Issue No.7 12.2015 pp.44-48.