Materials Framing: A Case Study of Biodesign Companies’ Web Communications

Patrizia D'Olivo, Elvin Karana*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


Advances in biodesign offer opportunities for developing materials for everyday products from living organisms, such as fungi, algae, and bacteria. Gaining widespread acceptance of new materials from the general public can be a lengthy process, making biodesign a high-risk pursuit with potentially significant economic, ecological, and social impacts. In this article, we conceptualize the notion of materials framing—combining knowledge from materials science, product design, and innovation management to create a communications strategy that accelerates popular adoption of novel materials. Which of its qualities will help orient users’ understanding of the new material? What is the best way to present those qualities? An extensive analysis of nine biodesign companies’ text and visual web communications revealed three core materials framing categories: material origins, fabrication processes, and material outcomes. We argue that these three categories expand the audiences’ focus beyond mere outcomes to include an organism's design potential—a lens with which to gain a more comprehensive view of the possibilities the material from a living organism affords.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-434
Number of pages32
JournalShe Ji
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Biodesign
  • Framing innovations
  • Living organisms
  • Materials experience
  • Materials innovation


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