Speculating on Biodesign in the Future Home

Speculating on Biodesign in the Future Home

CHI2021 Workshop | May 7-8, 2021

The home is a place of shelter, a place for family, and for separation from other parts of life, such as work. Global challenges, the most pressing of which are currently the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change has forced extra roles into many homes and will continue to do so in the future. Biodesign integrates living organisms into designed solutions and can offer opportunities for new kinds of technologies to facilitate a transition to the home of the future. Many families have had to learn to work alongside each other, and technology has mediated a transition from standard models of operation for industries.

These are the challenges of the 21st century that mandate careful thinking around interactive systems and innovations that support new ways of living and working at home. In this workshop, we will explore opportunities for biodesign interactive systems in the future home. We will bring together a broad group of researchers in HCI, design, and biosciences to build the biodesign community and discuss speculative design futures. The outcome will generate an understanding of the role of interactive biodesign systems at home, as a place with extended functionalities.

The workshop is held as part of the ACM CHI conference, and will bring together participants to build a community around biodesign and HCI. We invite participants from research, practice and industry, who are interested in speculative futures of interactive biodesign systems, to participate in our workshop. We are interested in hearing diverse voices of those who combine knowledge in areas of biological science, HCI, speculative and design fiction. This conference is led by academics from the Design Lab and Affective Interaction Lab at The University of Sydney and the MIT Media Lab.

About the workshop

This workshop is part of a series of workshops on speculating the future of biodesign in HCI. The first workshop was held as part of ACM DIS2020 conference titled “The Nature of Biodesigned Systems: Directions for HCI“. We examined a key question in biodesign “what will interactive systems look like in a guided and grown environment, rather than a built environment?” In that workshop, we explored technologies that rely on symbiotic relationships between the user and organisms that participate in interactive systems. Through exploring new aspects of designing for living computational systems in the ACM DIS2020 workshop, we identified three research themes and questions related to: (1) the need for system thinking to consider biodesign ecologies and their complex inter-relationship and impact on human life (rather than just one component or product); (2) identifying stakeholders who lead biodesign research in different contexts, and; (3) questions of values and ethics.

In this workshop, we explore how previous work may be extended as home and workplaces overlap. The outcomes will deepen our understanding of interactive biodesign systems with meanings attributed to home and work.

We invite participants to explore the following themes and questions with us:
Understanding the context: how may the future home be different, due to global challenges and advances in technology?
Opportunities for intervention: can biodesign be a non-speculative intervention in this context, and with the current state of biodesign?
Speculating on future interventions: What do they look like? What will they accomplish? How can speculative interventions be mapped to coexist and relate to each other?

DateMay 7th & 8th, 2021
Time6am JST (7am AEST, Sydney; 5pm EST, Boston)
Duration3 hours
EOI ProcessPlease complete the EOI form. We will contact accepted participants with links to online tools and meeting. Please see the Participation section below for more details.
EOI DuePlease upload position papers by 21st February 2021 (anywhere in the world)
NotificationAccepted participants will be notified on
28th Februrary 2021
ToolsThe workshop will be hosted using miro.com and zoom.


Participants are expected to submit short position papers (2-4 pages, in ACM extended abstract format). The position papers are submitted through the workshop EOI. The position papers may provide contributions and critical thinking perspectives aligned with the workshop theme. Research on interactive biodesign systems is a growing area of research and innovation and we invite participants to share their thoughts, reflections and experiences in this area relevant to home and work. Submissions will be juried by the organizers based on relevance.

We aim to build new collaborations through this workshop. Findings and a summary of opportunities identified for this field will be communicated through subsequent publications and participants will be invited to contribute to these. A summary of the discussions will be posted onthe workshop website.


Phillip Gough
Dr Phil Gough is a Lecturer in biological design at the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning. His teaching and research focus on interdisciplinary collaboration between design and science, including biodesign, non-expert user data visualisation, and design for health and wellbeing. Phil is the Program Director for the Major in Biological Design, a unique, insterdisciplinary undergraduate program combining life sciences and design.
Jack Forman
Jack Forman is a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, in the Tangible Media Group. Jack’s vision is to make tangible artifacts embedded seamlessly with responsive behavior, through the development of programmable materials and ways to fabricate them, to make engaging human-material interfaces that utilize the emotional power of touch. Jack sees a future where these adaptive interfaces are ubiquitous, where every material is able to accept and respond to the change that is constantly flowing through us. Previously, Jack received his B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University, where he double majored in Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering
Pat Pataranutaporn
Pat Pataranutaporn is a technologist, designer, and a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab. Pat’s interests are at the intersection of biotechnology and wearable technology, specifically at the integration of bio and digital system to create personalized interfaces for the users. In his thesis, Pat developed Biological HCI, a design framework that investigates the relationships between human, computer and biological systems by defining biological materials as design elements.
Leigh-Anne Hepburn
Dr Leigh-Anne Hepburn is a senior lecturer at the Design Lab, The University of Sydney. Her research utilises participatory and social innovation at the intersections of industry, academia, government and community to co-design new models of resilience and transdisciplinary collaboration.Dr Leigh-Anne Hepburn is a senior lecturer at the Design Lab, The University of Sydney. Her research utilises participatory and social innovation at the intersections of industry, academia, government and community to co-design new models of resilience and transdisciplinary collaboration.
Carolina Ramirez-Figueroa
Dr Carolina Ramirez-Figueroa is a Research Tutor in the Design Products programme at the Royal College of Art, and visiting Lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL. Her work combines critical theory, feminist studies and creative practice to look at the intersection of architecture, design and living systems.
Clare Cooper
Dr Clare Cooper, PhD is a Lecturer at the University of Sydney. Her research and practice span design futuring, workshop facilitation, performance and design activism. Over the last two decades, Cooper has brought together thousands of people to work collectively on community initiatives, creative approaches to governance, collaborative composition, speculative design and critical listening through co-founding the NOW now festival (2001), The Splinter Orchestra (2001), Berlin Splitter Orchester (2009) and Frontyard Projects (2016).
Angela Vujic
Angela Vujic is a graduate researcher at the Fluid Interfaces Group in the MIT Media Lab. She is motivated by the connection between the microbiome and mental health to create technology that mediates the mind-gut connection. She aims to introduce gut-brain computer interfaces (GBCIs) to HCI, devices that enable individuals to modulate their gut activity or use their gut activity as inputs to other devices. She holds a degree in computer science from Georgia Tech where she developed brain-computer interface (BCI) glasses with a fiber optic display for assistive communication.
Raphel Kim
Dr Raphael Kim is a designer and HCI researcher, investigating our fraught, and often peculiar relationships with biology and technology. He designs playful artefacts, which incorporate living, (micro-)biological materials with computer systems, to better understand the implications of our bio-digitally mediated futures. Following his master’s degree and visiting lectureship at Design Interactions, Royal College of Art (RCA), Raphael gained his Ph.D degree in 2020 from Media and Arts Technology program, Queen Mary University in London, UK.
David Sun Kong
Dr David Sun Kong is a Synthetic Biologist, community organizer, musician, and photographer based in Lexington, MA. He is the Director of the MIT Media Lab’s new Community Biotechnology Initiative. He was recognized as an emerging leader in synthetic biology as a “LEAP” fellow, served as a guest faculty member at the Marine Biology Lab in Woods Hole, MA, and is co-founder and managing faculty of “How To Grow (Almost) Anything,” an international course on synthetic biology.
Hiroshi Ishii
Prof. Hiroshi Ishii is the Jerome B. Wiesner Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab. After joining the Lab in October 1995, he founded the Tangible Media Group to make digital tangible by giving physical form to digital information and computation. Here, he pursues his visions of Tangible Bits (1997) and Radical Atoms (2012) that will transcend the Painted Bits of GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces), the current dominant paradigm of HCI (Human-Computer Interaction). He received the 2019 SIGCHI Lifetime Research Award.
Pattie Maes
Prof. Pattie Maes is a professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences and runs the Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces research group, which aims to radically reinvent the human-machine experience. Coming from a background in artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction, she is particularly interested in the topic of cognitive augmentation, or how immersive and wearable systems can actively assist people with memory, learning, decision making, communication, and wellbeing.
Misha Sra
Dr Misha Sra is the John and Eileen Gerngross Assistant Professor and directs the Perceptual Engineering Lab in the Computer Science department at UCSB. She is also affiliated with UCSB’s Center for Responsible Machine Learning (CRML). Misha received her PhD at the MIT Media Lab in 2018. She has published at the most selective HCI and VR venues such as CHI, UIST, VRST, and DIS where she received multiple best paper awards and honorable mentions.
Naseem Ahmadpour
Dr Naseem Ahmadpour is Senior Lecturer and the director of Affective Interactions lab, The University of Sydney. She conducts research at the cross-section of HCI, design, and psychology, and regularly publishes in HCI journals and conferences. She is interested in researching emerging technologies that support human flourishing through reflection and affective experiences.