Category: Education


Green Lab in Malaysia

Green Lab Founder, Andrew Gregson, spent the last week in June 2018 participating in a 5 day workshop in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia in partnerhip with Westminster University, The British Council and University of Malaysia. The intensive trans- and multi-disciplinary five-day workshop was funded by the ‘British Council Researcher Links’, designed to foster an ecosystem for developing resilient social enterprise through entrepreneurial learning.

Over 40 participants from the UK, Europe, US and Asia converged in Kota Kinabalu to take part in the project. Over the five days, small teams traveled to : Kundasang (agro-tourism), Keningau (livestock tourism), Kota Maradu – Teringai (banana plantation), Kuala Penyu (emerging industry), Tambunan (mulberry plantation) with a view to understanding rural needs, potential for social entrepreneurship and to establish local projects.

Mentor and Coaches
Mentors and coaches meet at the start of the week for briefings

Green Lab’s role was to act as a mentor to ‘Team Banana’ (our self nominated name given our project location, and love of the local Sabah banana). Team Banana traveled to the ‘Teringai, Beach and Cafe lodge’; exploring a banana plantation, local community and social ecosystem, building a social context and understanding of the landscape, listening to the needs of the rural community and creating a proposal for social entreprenuership.

Teringai
Teringai Beach and Cafe Lodge
Teringai
Coastal location
Teringai
Visiting local communities

Teringai
Getting to know the landscape
Teringai
Listening to residents
Teringai
Working as a team

Our final proposal and pitch focused on improving local environmental conditions; removing plastics from beaches, edcuation workshops for schools, recycling waste materials and encouraging local communities to self initiate and lead activities. Of the five proposals from the competing teams, presented for peer review at the end of the week, Green Lab and our Team Banana won: our small pot of prize funding will initiate a research project and implement the start of our social entreprenuership.

Team Banana
Team Banana – winning team at Malaysia SITEL 2018

To close the week, we spent Friday morning cleaning a beach at UMS (University Malaysia, Sabah) – sadly the local community disgard a large proportion of plastics into the sea, which accumulate on a beautiful adjacent sandy retreat.

Collecting rubbish from beach

Collecting rubbish from beach

Collecting rubbish from beach

We’d like to thank the SITEL team at Westminister for organising the workshop, their organisational skills and the inspiring team made the project possible. Green Lab is very much looking forward to making our ‘Team Banana’ project come to life.

For more background on the SITEL project visit the Westminster Application page.

Central Saint Martins Degree Show Two

It’s degree show season and we kicked of with Central Saint Martins Degree Show Two last week.

Starting with MA Material Futures which was as always full of the weird and wonderful. With speculative and critical design subjects contextualised through making and the tangible we were guaranteed to find some surprises around the corner of that neon lit wall. With the Labs concern for material exploration and the utilisation of resources the projects that stood out all dealt with materials commonly viewed as waste. From organic waste streams that are prolific and so often discarded as useless to the man made world of plastic we seem to have created.

Sinae Kim

Perhaps the most progressive use of a waste stream was presented by Sinae Kim with her project ‘This is urine’. As the title suggests we were confronted with a series of organic vessels entirely crafted from urine. Their was a sense of the prehistoric about them. Each piece was made using human urine – ‘extracting the minerals to produce clay, distilling it to form a natural glaze and eventually crafting ceramic vessels that nod to the origin of this humble, abundant and completely under-utilised natural resource.’

With each of us producing around 2 litres of urine daily, globally that scales up to over 10.5 billion litres every single day being flushed away – it is a resource that perhaps would make many uncomfortable but clearly has great potential and purpose.

This is urine by Sinae Kim

‘This is urine’ by Sinae Kim

Lulu Wang

Lulu Wang’s project ‘Increasing the value of rice husk’ offered a practical and poetic solution to eliminating the burning of waste rice husk that takes place yearly throughout China. By creating simple but necessary tools such as chop sticks and writing implements with this by-product of the rice farming industry Lulu also tackles the ‘annual haze, a smog that engulfs China and is one of the largest contributors to declining public health.’

Increasing the value of rice husk by Lulu Wang

‘Increasing the value of rice husk’ by Lulu Wang

We saw the much publicised horror of plastic waste tackled by students Charlotte Kidger and Katie May Boyd both utilising this as a raw material to make with.

Charlotte Kidger

Charlotte’s project ‘Industrial Craft’ explored making a new composite from polyurethane foam dust a waste product from CNC milling. By exploring this new material from a hands on practice she has successfully created a new desirable material, with objects that are visually appealing and will no doubt hold value.

Industrial Craft by Charlotte Kidger

‘Industrial Craft’ by Charlotte Kidger

Katie May Boyd

Whilst Katie’s project ‘Foreign Garbage’ focusing on expanded polystyrene (EPS) solely used for packaging made commentary on societies excessive consumption, with little regard to the waste that constantly buying produces. With the recent ban China has brought in, refusing to take any more of our waste the beckoning cat or Maneki-neko symbolises our plastic obsession and adds an element of humour to an otherwise bleak topic.  The project acts as an important ‘tool for discussion around waste.’

Foreign Garbage by Katie May Boyd

‘Foreign Garbage’ by Katie May Boyd

At MA Industrial Designs show the projects we were struck by focused more heavily on growing, utilising tech, open source and hacking to grow, survive and flourish in the city.

Zoe Kahane

One of our favourites was ‘Green Me’ by Zoe Kahane – a project that’s simplicity spoke volumes. ‘Greening the City through active citizen participation’ – the project enables and encourages citizens to green their city, with the notion of positive grafitti the act benefits the environment and people. Using old socks and an easily assembled open source structure the design attaches to railings, lamp columns, and fencing panels temporarily, causing no damage and the ability to be moved and changed. By encouraging citizens to take ownership of their public spaces and actively improve the environment this project acts as a small step that collectively could amount to large change.

Green Me by Zoe Kahane

Green Me by Zoe Kahane

‘Green Me’ by Zoe Kahane

Open Design & Manufacturing

Green Lab is partnered with University of the Arts London (UAL) as part of an EU funded project OD&M (Open Design & Manufacturing). The project connects universities, makerspaces and enterprises to work collaboratively encouraging open-design principles, innovative practice, and sharing ethos to design towards social good.

As a makerspace with a concern for re-designing complex urban food, water and waste systems Green Lab values open-source design and innovation to tackle important challenges for the future and knowledge exchange is fundamental to achieving sustainable practice on a global scale.

OD&M Knowledge

Green Lab took part in ‘Arts Work of the Future’ by Digital Maker Collective at the TATE Exchange from 6th – 11th March 2018. The week long residency was a collaboration between Digital Maker Collective ( a collective of students, alumni & staff from Camberwell, Chelsea & Wimbledon, UAL), MA Industrial Design students from Central Saint Martins and makerspaces – Green Lab and Fab Lab Lodz. The residency encouraged open design principles and knowledge exchange, working collaboratively and inviting the community to engage with and partake in the creation of the work.

Green Lab collaborated with a team of students & staff from Digital Maker Collective to create a Growing Space – an indoor greenhouse exploring indoor farming and sustainable food systems, built using end of life materials and designed to be modular, resulting in the structure physically growing as the week went on alongside the plants. The space invited the public to add sections as they wished, creating a network of growing spaces, planting seedlings in recycled plastic bottles and cups as they went. The design was purposefully self explanatory and easy to assemble, encouraging people of all abilities to engage with building it.

Chillis growing

The space challenged preconceived perceptions of the ability to grow indoors and within the city, encouraging creativity when thinking of the materials and equipment required. By collecting locally salvaged and recycled materials from our urban landscape it poses to redefine the value of objects. As well as producing edible crops the space created a temporary green environment, providing a peaceful space to relax.

Green Lab resident Edward Hill talked of sustainable growing within urban environments, holding a bucket hydroponics workshop – with a few easily accessible and non specialist pieces of equipment you can pick up at a hardware shop (a bucket and lid, rain gullies, piping and a pump) Ed demonstrated how to successfully grow mint in a vertical wall system with just water and nutrients, eliminating the need for soil and space. To read more about the project at the TATE Exchange click here.

Growing space

Gauging the success of building a temporary structure for growing at the TATE Exchange Green Lab has continued the project with a group of students and staff from Chelsea. We are in the process of developing an open-design and modular structure to grow both edible and foliage plants indoors. Throughout a series of workshop’s we have been designing an open source vertical ‘wall’. For this structure we began to consider a set of design parameters and considerations to ensure we are creating in a sustainably aware way. Modularity and open source have directed the design at each step of the process as well as a focus on material exploration and awareness.

We are now in the process of creating a methodology for design, building ‘Open-design lenses’ to act as a series of steps and considerations needed to achieve sustainable open design that’s accessible, collaborative and socially driven. To test our lenses we will create a number of short projects that innovate current urban systems, creating products and environments of change. The OD&M project is a 3 year project ending in December 2019, to find out more have a look here.

Green Lab visit to Biohm

Today we had the chance to visit our new friends at Biohm and hear about their use of mycelium and biomaterials to create a more sustainable construction industry. We were shown around by founder Ehab Sayed and learnt more about their material research and incredible plans for the future.

Their mission is to innovate the construction industry to create a healthier and more sustainable built environment, with human centered design and bio materials at their core. Set to challenge the current model of mass construction that rarely considers the negative impact on both the surrounding environment but also on the future inhabitants well being.

They are currently in the materials research phase developing biomaterials from mycelium and other food waste to create alternative living and sustainable materials for insulation and other building purposes. By growing materials and utilising food waste these materials are minimising the wasteful practice often associated with building.

Biohm

‘Placing biological systems at the heart of our inspiration, we combine ideologies of the circular economy and human-centred design with future-tech to create a step-change in building technologies, materials and manufacturing methods.

we collaborate with industrial and academic partners to lead the construction industry towards a circular future that is inspired by nature and driven by our human, environmental and economic needs.’

Ehab Sayad will be speaking about the amazing work they are doing at Biohm at ‘A Mushroom Matter’ a talk curated by Pauline Roques and hosted at Green Lab on Tuesday 29th May from 7-9pm, make sure you get a ticket to hear more about the exciting changes the future holds.

GET TICKETS

Prometheus food lab travels to the Italian Alps to speak at a conference held by Dolomitti Contemporanee

Our resident Lorenzo Barbasetti di Prun has traveled to the Italian Alps this week to speak at Direct Current Method, a conference held by Dolomitti Contemporanee about his ambition of starting Prometheus, an open food lab based in the Dolomite region to promote regeneration of a neglected area. Lorenzo has summarised the conference and his contribution to it below for us:

Can researching edibles contribute to regenerating landscapes in remote areas?

Of course. That is what Prometheus, our open food lab based in the Dolomites, believes.
To present this belief we have been invited to take part in Direct Current Method, the conference curated by Dolomiti Contemporanee addressing the challenges and opportunities in the regeneration of territories in the Dolomites, on the 20th of April.

I still struggle to define exactly what Dolomiti Contemporanee is, despite having worked closely with them for a while now.  They are the organisation giving Prometheus food lab a space and constant support. Using their own words ‘Dolomiti Contemporanee is a laboratory for visual arts in space’. I would say it is a process, a catalyst for the regeneration of underestimated spaces. It acts like a wishful thinker pioneer in those places that used to be of crucial importance for their communities, making them fertile again; vibrant through cultural practice.

The conference will be an occasion to gather a selection of eminent projects operating on different levels in the Italian Alps, both within and outside the Dolomites. The speakers are called to bring their practices to the strategic yet critic mountain space, both looking at the environment on a wider context and focusing on specific abandoned or underused sites, the potential of which is still intact.
One of those in fact will be the frame of our reflections; the impressively regenerated hydroelectric power plant in Malnisio, Friuli Venezia Giulia that also offered the pretext for the title.

Direct Current Method addresses the narrowness of certain cultural and social policies that are intermittently proving themselves to be inconsistent and ephemeral, not able to root in the place and grow with the community. On the other hand culture intended by DC as the human cognitive and creative, planning and operational function is a constant flux, able to activate or re-activate; to nourish virtuous and sustainable practices.

The architect Edoardo Gellner, demiurge of the former ENI Village in Borca di Cadore refers to landscape as the combination of the natural environment and human activity.

It is therefore impossible to talk about landscape regeneration without considering food. The relationship between humans and food is obvious, but human strategies to get nutrients nowadays can be destructive both when involving massive exploitation of the land or totally neglecting it. Placing resilience and survival as the goal of humankind it is equally as dangerous as the deforestation of an hectare of virgin forest and the abandonment of the same surface of grazing land. In both cases the local community is deprived of its sustenance and its culture. In fact food is not only nutrition but it carries with it a set of values and knowledge which is unique. At the same time the cultural practices related to food production, preservation, transformation and consumption have been historically developed to take as much as possible from the environment whilst simultaneously preserving it, so that it could keep providing food and sustain the community year after year.

Since the end of the last World War the alpine areas have been experiencing an actual exodus towards the big industrial poles all over the world and more recently the phenomenon has worsened due to policies that impose cuts to local services and the subsequent weakening of the social fabric. This meant a huge cultural loss even in terms of adaptability and now that some bold and adventurous people want to return to live in these spaces, escaping from cities and urban living, their goal is likely to fail because so much has already been lost from these regions. The direct keepers of knowledge and competences are gone, the grazing land has been invaded by untamed forests, seeds selected for generations have been lost. Even laws have adapted to a different conception of life and landscape and don’t fit to these places anymore.

The modern forms of thoughtless tourism looking for amusement; the bowing down of privates and institutions to investors’ blackmailing has worsened the already fragile situation of these lands and their communities. The illusory flow of capitals and the revivals of traditions as a means of entertainment have eventually weakened the community fabric, exploiting local resources and have contributed an unsustainable economy in an environment with fragile balances. Locals gave up many of the strategies that had taken centuries to be developed, losing awareness, knowledge and therefore resilience.

Prometheus Lab logo

Prometheus_lab is a research hub aimed to explore the remote places of our minds to generate, collect and (re)distribute knowledge about food. It operates as a cultural device to re-activate awareness and support resilience in those neglected places that even being right in front of our eyes are completely invisible to our sensibility because we’re not educated to recognise their potential.

If you think about the basic human needs – food is the most important; there is no life without food and there is no doubt at the same time that it is the first and most powerful element shaping the landscapes we live in. It is able to change the perspective with which we look at the world, it is capable of flipped over the frameworks of meaning that relegate places to remoteness. Remoteness as a mental state. We are exploring these remote locations of the mind and culture as if they were another planet entirely. We are trans-dimensional explorers in this space that is both virginal and yet already violated in the most intimate meaning of the word. We look for intelligent life forms that may be able to generate intelligent forms of life.

Winter foraging sessionExpedition #1: Winter Foraging Session. photo: Giulia Fassina

Quite surprisingly my experience in London has revealed concerns for food exploration in a way I would never have expected. I had never thought there was anything remote about a densely populated mega city with 11 million inhabitants. Despite the large disposal of social and economic resources, food is still a problem which had been underestimated until Brexit abruptly changed the game. More than half of the food consumed in the UK comes from abroad and the raising tariffs applied to imported goods impose not only organisations but also citizens to explore new solutions. Or rather, old ones. In fact at the last openhouse event hosted at Green Lab we reflected on a what resilient food system after Brexit might look like, calling to mind the Dig for Victory campaign used during WWII. Shall we all become farmers, or shall we reconvert any tiny green plot of land, any balcony or bath tub into a growing surface to produce more food locally? The answer is much more complex than what have the possibility to develop here but what is interesting from my perspective is the perception of the urban landscape related to food.

London is dotted with green areas, reservoirs and huge parks; most of the houses have some square meter of courtyard, without even talking about the random flowerbeds along the streets or the cemeteries that often grow wild. All this potential seems to be largely neglected and people seem unaware of the criticality and opportunities of these areas; what is already growing around them and how they can be involved in a more conscious and fruitful relationship with urban life for mutual support.

Boite RiverBoite river, Cadore, Italy. Photo: Giulia Fassina.

Green Lab takes part in Grow Wild 2018 – Tasty Natives

Green Lab is pleased to announce that we have been selected by The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to take part in Grow Wild UK 2018, a community project that aims to bring people together through activities that connect their community and celebrate UK native wildflowers, plants and/or fungi.

With food, water and waste being our fundamental concerns, the Green Lab team will be exploring the native species that are easy to grow in the British climate and should make more of a steady appearance in our meals.

The project will be led by Green Lab resident Ana Jaramillo, who will open the lab for members of the community who wish to take part in a series of educational and gastronomic experiences. With the participation of local chefs/cooks and Green Lab volunteers, we will grow, cook and curate a tantalising set of dishes for the Grow Wild UK 2018 “Tasty Natives: sustainable cooking experience”. From starters to desserts, there is a wide range of options to be explored.

‘Tasty Natives’ will bring together the local community and provide them with knowledge about the importance of sustainable food production and its relationship with native species, flowers and fungi.

native wild common thyme

Thymus Polytrichus – Native wild common thyme

With our reliance on food to survive we will use this as an opportunity to discuss various sustainable food options, how we can collectively tackle our growing food demand, how to minimise and utilise food waste, food scarcity, and more circular growing and consuming systems. With this interactive gastronomic experience we hope to inspire the community to take action!

Our collective experience throughout the project will be curated into a crowd sourced digital recipe book, ‘Tasty Natives’, including ideas and recipes from the those that partake in the project.

We hope that our ‘Tasty Natives’ project will become a nationwide educational tool and source of inspiration for anyone to get more involved with their locally grown produce and experiment cooking with new ingredients, supporting the Grow Wild initiative.

If you have a few hours to spare and wish to be part of the Tasty Natives volunteering team please do not hesitate to contact Ana Jaramillo: ana.jaramillo@greenlab.org. The project will be great fun to take part in and an edible journey, we also need to people with a plethora of different skills so if you haven’t grown before or cooking isn’t your strong point their are still many ways for you to get involved!

Our first event for Tasty Natives will be an #openhouse day on Saturday 14th April, come along to find out more about the project and taste some natives – tickets are FREE.

Arts Work of the Future – collaborative project with Digital Makers Collective at the TATE Exchange

Last week Green Lab took part in the Arts Work of the Future – a project run by the Digital Makers Collective from UAL at the Tate Exchange.

The project looked to explore the role of technology in the arts and how this will impact the future of our creativity. As we continue to live in an age of rapid technological change we need to explore how this will impact all areas of our lives and industry. By embracing these advancements we can utilize technology to create, make and grow towards the best possible future.

The digital maker collective transformed the Tate Exchange into a large public innovation hub, exploring different forms of technological advancement and inviting both makers and the public to get involved, contributing a hands on experience to the event.

Green Lab was part of the ‘Growing Space‘, contributing seedlings, plants and technology for growing.

green lab seedlings

About Growing Space –

‘A collaborative project about local collection and sustainable, communal space.

This project is the adaptation of a greenhouse in an indoor environment, raising questions about sustainability. Since it is locally sourced with non-specialist materials from recycling circuits, it is aimed to be easy to build on its own, as a modular framework that can be replicated by anyone.

The modularity of the space provides an expanding and growing capacity backed up by the plants growing in it, creating an intimate pleasant atmosphere, in which the air is filtered, providing a cleaner environment to be in.

This adaptable space rethinks design as a collecting and evolving activity that can be shared between the members/builders.’

modular growing space design

The space was an organic structure that took shape throughout the six days that the event ran for, with both a team from UAL and Green Lab helping to build the space, add plants and technology and engage the public to help the environment grow and expand. The project was a place to learn about the possibilities of growing in whatever space you have available to you, highlighting the options to grow within the city with just a bit of creativity and experimentation.

The project also highlighted the ability to find usable materials from your surroundings, collecting local unwanted materials from businesses to build and grow in. With the combination of low tech and high tech the project successfully planted the beginning of an edible garden with minimal cost and maximum imagination.

Providing seedlings and plants from the lab the space soon became a green jungle of intrigue, with chilli’s and microgreens provided by lab resident Silly Greens being grown in recycled plastic bottles and coffee cups.

The smart system also combined a Blynk dashboard and Arduino to keep track of the air quality, humidity, light and temperature of the growing space.

Blynk dashboard and arduino

While the concern for the future of our growing systems increases it is easy to focus on the large long term struggles we will face trying to feed the planet globally, while forgetting the small change you can make yourself, even if you lack outside space, with bit of versatility you can grow small amounts with an adaptable modular system right at home.

To highlight this our resident hydroponics designer, Ed the urban researcher, held an interactive workshop showing just how easy it is to create a small scale hydroponics system with a bucket, some ventilation ducting and a water pump.

Hydroponic bucket system

If you want to learn more about the projects we explore at the lab and how you can adapt your living space to house some simple small scale growing systems at a low cost come along to our #openhouse events or sign up for an aquaponics workshop.

The video below captures the space and the various projects that the public could interact with. To find out more about the different work exhibited head to Arts Work of the Future.

Microbial Circus tour – Pop up bacteria bar at Green Lab with Edible Alchemy

Green Lab will be hosting a pop up bacteria bar – Microbial Circus Tour – with Edible Alchemy on Tuesday 20th March.

Bacteria Baristas Alexis Goertz & Natalie Elizabeth will be running the evening with some Kombucha from our resident fermentation specialist Jon Katona.

Join us on from 6.30pm for a colourful and wonderful gastronomic experience as we explore the world of bacteria and healthier living.

Learn how probiotics can help you boost your health, improve digestion and your gut while enjoying the amazing flavors of natural probiotic foods. We’ll give you a real insight into how these bacteria can help you live a far more healthier lifestyle. There will tasting sessions throughout the evening across a eclectic mix of food types – one for food adventurers, explorers and curious foodies.

Alexis Goertz & Natalie Elizabeth &

Bacteria Baristas – Alexis Goertz & Natalie Elizabeth

Passionate DIY fermentation-foodies, who have been creating foods, drinks and events as Edible Alchemy 2013. We have traveled the world, collecting rare probiotic cultures, and sampling local fermented delicacies, while honing our craft. The bacterial succession spreads the Edible Alchemy headquarters over two continents – Europe, based in Berlin with Alexis, and North America, based in Winnipeg with Natalie – https://ediblealchemy.co/

Tickets are £25 per person.

Food Futures – The Calthorpe Project

On Saturday 17th March our friends from the Institute of Making at Slade, UCL will be hosting a 1 day workshop with the Calthorpe Project. To learn more about food production, sustainability and closing the energy loop register for your free ticket.

Throughout this wonderland of food activities you will be introduced to growing in anti-gravity conditions and concoct your own veggie sausages, using ingredients harvested from the Calthorpe Project.

More info:

‘A one-day hands-on workshop with academics and artists from the Slade School of Art, UCL on the theme of food production, sustainability and closing the energy loop. You will have the opportunity to join an experiment to test a hydroponic plant machine, originally devised by NASA and make your own vegetarian closed loop sausages.

10am – 1pm: Artist Nick Laessing will introduce his Plant Orbiter, a hydroponic machine which tests whether anti-gravity conditions can increase plant growth. His project looks at the future of urban food production, technology and self-sufficiency. You will be invited to plant your choice of edible food plants and herbs for later harvest. Participants can volunteer to become hydroponic gardeners/experimenters during the plants’ growth cycle.

Lunch is provided by the Calthorpe Garden Cafe and includes some of the food grown in the community garden.

2pm – 5pm: Artist Ellie Doney will lead the afternoon’s sausage making workshop, inviting you to choose edible materials grown at the Calthorpe Project to devise, cook and eat closed loop veggie sausages. Using sausage anatomy as a delicious metaphor, we will explore questions about how we eat, what we eat, our bodies, identity and our relationship with our environment. Please bring along an edible ingredient to introduce yourself and add to the sausage pantry.

Nick Laessing is an artist exploring the interfaces of art, technology and eco-crisis. His research project life-systems, addresses how art can confront ecological issues such as food and energy production through speculative technologies that encourage participation and engagement.

Ellie Doney is an artist researcher whose PhD project Food & Transformation travels the borders of human and non-human matter, and asks how we become like the materials we encounter, through cooking and eating with people. Her research unwraps the many layers of properties within matter to find out how we all interrelate.’

Find out more about the Calthorpe Project.

Register for your free ticket.

 

Bento Lab – Green Lab residents

Bento Lab is a DNA analysis laboratory created by Bethan Wolfenden and Philipp Boeing. The duo are currently in their first production run of the first affordable DNA laboratory after it successfully passed beta testing. With backgrounds in Biochemistry and Computer Science they are seeking to bring DNA testing into the public sector, allowing anyone to conduct their own simple DNA analysis with the use of the lab.

Bethan Wolfenden & Philipp Boeing &

The beauty of the design is its compact size and accessibility. With the lab measuring no more than the average size of a laptop, you could literally take your lab with you. This is a game changer for the world of science. As someone that last conducted a scientific experiment in secondary school, the world of laboratories, DNA testing and white coats has seemed a very closed of and inaccessible space, one reserved for only the highly intellectual. Bento Lab brings this world into everyday accessibility. With the rise of makers spaces, DIY  and opensource we are seeing a transition from these disciplines being reserved for the technically trained to an open space for collaboration and cross disciplinary work. The more transparency we see through these sectors the greater chance for public engagement and understanding, potentially leading to the possibility of a more inclusive community.

Citizen science and the maker movement was an important source of inspiration for Bethan and Philipp, who were running hands-on biotechnology workshops in schools and community centers and were becoming frustrated at the lack of accessible hardware for these events. After taking an initial mock-up of the lab to a maker festival in Rome in 2013 and receiving positive feedback they realized this concept had depth and needed to be scaled, bringing the use of a DNA laboratory to the many.

As in keeping with the accessibility this lab will bring to science, a proportion of the funding they raised for their first production run was via Kickstarter. Running this campaign meant that the public and educational institutions could donate to the cause, or pre-order their own Bento Lab.

What is Bento Lab exactly?

‘Bento Lab is the first complete DNA laboratory, suitable for a beginner to a professional. It comes with a PCR thermocycler, a centrifuge and a gel electrophoresis box and power supply with blue LED transillumination – all controlled by an intuitive interface. And with an A4 footprint that fits into any laptop-sized bag, Bento Lab can travel wherever your science goes.’

Bento Lab &

To find out more or pre-order you lab head to bento.bio