Becoming microbes: An approach to cultivating microbial sensibilities in biodesign

Jiho Kim*, Raphael Kim, Joana Martins, Elvin Karana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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Microbes assume an indispensable role in design, given their inherent adaptability, functional diversity, and abundance. Yet, designing with microbes presents notable challenges for biodesigners, stemming from, for example, the distinct temporalities and scales of microbes. Conversely, cultivating microbial sensibilities—reflecting human comprehension and alignment with the distinctive characteristics of microbes—stands out as a unique potential of biodesign for fostering a deep connection between humans and other living entities. In response, we present the concept of “becoming microbes”, a philosophically grounded approach advocating for a non-anthropocentric stance in biodesign, aiming at immersing biodesigners in the realms of microbes with a fresh perspective for imagining the world through the lens of a microbe. By harnessing diverse microbial qualities, including motility and communication, we present various design avenues to explore the notion of becoming microbes. We reflect on the role of merging the biological with the immersive digital systems in this context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDRS Conference Proceedings 2024
EditorsColin Gray, Paul Hekkert, Laura Forlano, Paolo Ciuccarelli
Place of PublicationBoston, United States
PublisherDesign Research Society
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2024
EventDRS 2024: Design Research Society Conference - Northeastern University, Boston, United States
Duration: 24 Jun 202428 Jun 2024


ConferenceDRS 2024: Design Research Society Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • biodesign
  • more-than-human
  • microorganisms
  • becoming


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