Tag Archives: Suzanne Lee

Bio and neuro inspiration at Metro Vancouver’s (Canada) 2020 Zero Waste Conference (ZWC)

For anyone not familiar with Metro Vancouver (and before I launch into the 2020 Zero Waste conference [ZWC] news and discuss why this year is particularly interesting [to me, anyway]), here’s a description from the Metro Vancouver About Us webpage,

Metro Vancouver is a federation of 21 municipalities [including Vancouver, Canada], one Electoral Area and one Treaty First Nation that collaboratively plans for and delivers regional-scale services. Its core services are drinking water, wastewater treatment and solid waste management. Metro Vancouver also regulates air quality, plans for urban growth, manages a regional parks system and provides affordable housing. The regional district is governed by a Board of Directors of elected officials from each local authority.

2020 Zero Waste Conference (ZWC) celebrates 10 years?

Apparently, the organizers are planning some limited in-person participation for the 2020 edition of the Zero Waste conference (from the Aug. 7, 2020 ZWC blog posting) Note: Pay special attention to the second sentence in the first paragraph,

For the past 10 years, Metro Vancouver’s annual Zero Waste Conference has been at the forefront of Canada’s journey into the circular economy. This year, we are pleased to keep the engagement going online and with an in-person option for a limited number of participants (more to come).

The 2020 Zero Waste Conference promises the same insightful programming we’ve provided over the past decade, but in a new, virtual format. For the first time, conference participants will be able to hear from and connect with the thought leaders, innovators and change agents working to advance waste prevention and the circular economy in Canada – all from the comfort of their own homes or offices.

The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing public health response may have resulted in some near-term setbacks for the zero waste movement. However, as we work together to ‘Build Back Better,’ it is essential that we critically examine our society’s relationships with products, packaging and waste, and garner the courage to create systems and build infrastructure that will enable a transition to a circular and zero waste economy, creating solutions that combine economic opportunity with benefits to wider society and the environment.

We are living through an era of unprecedented change and transformation. How do we apply our creativity and knowledge to craft a future for Canada that embraces new materials, new ways of doing business and new policies that not only prevent waste and promote circularity, but that help us move toward a more sustainable, healthy and equitable future?

We look forward to highlighting some of the best ideas from the last 10 years and presenting pioneering solutions that take us to a future most of us have only begun to dare dream is possible.

I imagine the option for in-person participation is contingent on the COVID-19 situation in the province of British Columbia and, specifically, the Metro Vancouver region. At the time of this writing, the number of cases in the province are rising steadily, again.

As for the question mark in the head for this subsection, it’s unusual for an organization to not make a big fuss of their 10th annual [anything] leading me to wonder why?

Now, onto the item that sparked my interest in the 2020 ZWC.

Suzanne Lee and growing your clothes

Here’s the August 27, 2020 ZWC notice (received via email) announcing a speaker’s proposed new paradigm for fashion,

Growing a New Paradigm:
Biofabrication Pioneer Suzanne Lee at #ZWC20

The textiles & fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on earth, accounting for a staggering amount of carbon emissions, water consumption and ocean microplastics.

But what if we could produce durable and beautiful clothes with far less pollution and waste, using the processes at the heart of life itself?

We are pleased to welcome Suzanne Lee, material innovator and founder of Biofabricate, as morning keynote for the “Next Generation Materials” session.

“Biofabrication” uses microscopic organisms to reinvent the way we make everything from clothes to couches to buildings, and holds the promise for radically cutting emissions and eliminating waste.

Join us at the 2020 Zero Waste Conference to hear how Suzanne Lee and her colleagues are using fungi, bacteria, yeast and algae to revolutionize the fashion world from the ground up.

As Suzanne Lee says,

“Once you realize that these materials are better for the planet, animals and us, why would we go back to the toxic, polluting materials of the past?”

Join us on Friday, November 13th for the next phase of Canada’s zero waste journey.

Registration is now open for the 2020 Zero Waste Conference


I haven’t stumbled across Lee’s work in the last few years but between 2010 and 2014, I featured her work here three times:

You can find out more about Suzanne Lee and her work here (Note: This website seems to consist of a single page with links to other sites associated with Lee) and you can find out more about Lee’s latest company, Biofabricate here.

ZWC 2020 opening keynote address from a ‘neuro guy’

I’ve not come across Dr. Beau Lotto before but according to an August 18, 2020 posting on the ZWC blog, he’s giving the opening keynote address,

Embracing Uncertainty to Spark Innovation – ZWC20 Keynote Beau Lotto

We find ourselves amid uncertain times, and for those of us passionate about systems change and innovation, these are also times of great opportunity. But how exactly do we meet goals like advancing waste prevention and expanding the circular economy in the face of all this uncertainty?

To help answer that question, we’re pleased to introduce you to this year’s Zero Waste Conference opening keynote: Dr. Beau Lotto.

Frontiers in Science of Uncertainty

#ZWC20 Keynote Beau Lotto is no stranger to uncertainty – in fact, that is his main focus as a neuroscientist and entrepreneur.

Through his presentations (including three TED Talks), masterclasses and a proprietary form of consultancy build on “experiential experiments,” Dr. Lotto teaches organizations and individuals how to apply scientific truths about perception to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world.

His work probes how the human mind deals with the unknown and reveals fascinating and actionable implications for creativity, courage, emotional well-being and social connections.

Unlocking Our Creativity

How do we use the upheaval represented by COVID-19 as an opportunity to build back a more equitable and sustainable future?

The key, as Dr. Lotto said in a recent podcast interview, is to embrace uncertainty:

““Uncertainty is the only place you can go if you’re ever going to see differently the only place you can go if you’re going to be creative.”

As a researcher well versed in the circular economy and the challenges associated with global systems change, Beau Lotto brings a deep understanding of the importance of risk-taking and innovation.

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Lotto to #ZWC20 to set the stage and inspire us to embrace uncertainty and to step forward toward the future we want to bring about.  

How we proceed as a region – indeed, as a province, a country and continent – to address issues affecting our economy, environment and social make-up depends on our collective ability to be creative, innovative, and on our willingness to protect and nurture our communities.

We hope you will join us in the next phase of Canada’s zero waste journey.

You can find out more about Dr. Beau Lotto here.

This advertising video is largely comprised of a number of clips from various talks. He’s a dynamic speaker as opposed to being a quiet speaker,

Interesting, eh?

You can find out more about Metro Vancouver’s 2020 Zero Waste Conference here.

Futuristic fashion with Biocouture and other future-focused clothing companies

Suzanne Lee and her ‘green tea’ couture are being featured in a May 20, 2014 article by Adele Peters about futuristic fashion and a new documentary, ‘The Next Black’, for Fast Company,

Fabric grown from bacteria. T-shirt designs that “refresh” themselves. Or how about a new way to dye fabrics without water or pollution? These are ideas for the future of fashion that blend style and sustainability.

Biocouture is growing new fabric from bacteria using a process more like brewing beer than making any other textiles. The company hopes that eventually clothing could be grown directly on dress forms, creating zero waste. …

Studio XO, a company pioneering interactive digital fashion, shares their vision for a “Tumblr for the body”–a subscription service for clothing that could automatically refresh itself as you wear it (picture a T-shirt with an ever-evolving print curated by designers or your friends). …

You can find the full 45 min. documentary embedded in the Peters article. You can also find additional information about Suzanne Lee’s work in my June 8, 2012 post titled, Material changes, which also features other designers.

Material changes

A few items have caught my attention lately and the easiest way to categorize them is with the term, ‘materials’.  First, a June 7, 2012 article by Jane Wakefield about fashion and technology on the BBC News website that features a designer, Suzanne Lee, who grows clothing. I’m glad to see Lee is still active (I first mentioned her work with bacteria and green tea in a July 13, 2010 posting). From Wakefield’s 2012 article,

“I had a conversation with a biologist who raised the idea of growing a garment in a laboratory,” she [Biocouture designer, Suzanne Lee] told the BBC.

In her workshop in London, she is doing just that.

Using a recipe of green tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast she is able to ‘grow’ a material which she describes as a kind of “vegetable leather”.

The material takes about two weeks to grow and can then be folded around a mould – she has made a dress from a traditional tailor’s model but handbags and furniture are also possibilities.

Bio-biker image courtesy of Bio Couture (http://www.biocouture.co.uk/)

Designer Suzanne Lee’s website is http://www.biocouture.co.uk

Wakefield’s article goes on to discuss technologies being integrated into design,

While computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) is not a new technology, it has rarely been used in the fashion world before but French fashion designer Julien Fournié wants to change that.

Mr Fournié began working in fashion industry under Jean-Paul Gaultier but these days he is more likely to be found hanging out with engineers than with fashionistas.

He has teamed up with engineers at Dassault Systèmes, a French software company which more usually creates 3D designs for the car and aerospace industries.

Recently Mr Fournié has been experimenting with making clothes from neoprene, a type of rubber.

It is a difficult material to work with and Mr Fournié’s seamstresses suggested that the only way to stitch it would be to use glue.

“To my mind a glued dress wasn’t very sexy,” he said.

So he handed the problem over to the engineers.

“They found the right pressure for the needle so it didn’t break the material,” he said.

Wakefield discusses more of Fournié’s work as well as a ‘magic mirror’ being developed by the FashionLab at Dassault Systèmes,

“A store may have a magic mirror with a personal avatar that can use your exact body measurements to show you how new clothes would look on you,” explained Jerome Bergeret, director of FashionLab.

There is more in the Wakefield including the ‘future of fashion shopping’.

Still on the material theme but in a completely different category, flat screens that are tactile. From the June 6, 2012 news item by Nancy Owano on the physorg.com website,

Why settle for flat? That is the question highlighted on the home page of Tactus Technology, which does not want device users to settle for any of today’s tactile limitations on flatscreen devices. The Fremont, California-based company has figured out how to put physical buttons on a display when we want them and no buttons when we don’t. Tactus has announced its tactile user interface for touchscreen devices that are real, physical buttons that can rise up from the touchscreen surface on demand.

The customizable buttons can appear in a range of shapes and configurations. Buttons may run across the display, or in another collection of round buttons to represent a gamepad for playing games. “We are a user interface technology where people can take our technology and create whatever kind of interface they want,” said Nate Saaal, VP business development. He said it could be any shape or construct on the surface.

Lakshmi Sandhana also wrote about Tactus and its new keyboard in a June 6, 2012 article for Fast Company,

The idea of a deformable touchscreen surface came to Craig Ciesla, CEO of Tactus, way back in 2007, when he found himself using his BlackBerry instead of the newly released iPhone because of its keyboard. …

“I realized that this question could be answered by using microfluidics,” Ciesla says. Their design calls for a thin transparent cover layer with some very special properties to be laid on top of a touchscreen display. Made of glass or plastic, the 1mm-thick slightly elastic layer has numerous micro-channels filled with a non-toxic fluid. Increasing fluid pressure with the aid of a small internal controller causes transparent physical buttons to grow out of the surface of the layer in less than a second. Once formed, you can feel the buttons, rest your fingers or type on them, just like a mechanical keyboard. “When you don’t want the buttons, you reduce the fluid pressure, draw the fluid out and the buttons recede back to their original flat state.” (No messy cleanup–the minimal amount of fluid is all contained within the device.) “You’re left with a surface where you don’t see anything,” Ciesla explains.

The company, Tactus Technology Inc.,  does have a product video,

It’s a little bit on the dramatic side, I think their professional voiceover actor could have a future career  as a Rod Serling (Twilight Zone) sound alike. Regardless, I do like the idea of a product than can function as a flat screen and as a screen with buttons.

My last item is about an emotion-recognition phone. Kit Eaton who writes for Fast Company on a pretty regular basis posted a June 7, 2012 article about systems that recognize your emotions (Note: I have removed links from the excerpt),

Nunance [sic], which makes PC voice recognition systems and the tech that powers Apple’s famous Siri digital PA, have revealed their next tech is voice recognition in cars and for TVs. But the firm also wants to add more than voice recognition in an attempt to build a real-life KITT–it wants to add emotion detection so its system can tell how you’re feeling while you gab away. …

Nuance’s chief of marketing Peter Mahoney spoke to the Boston Globe last week about the future of the company’s tech, and noted that in a driving environment emotion detection could be a vital tool. For example, if your car thinks you sound stressed, it may SMS your office to say you’re late or even automatically suggest another route that avoids traffic. (Or how about a voice-controlled Ford system that starts playing you, say, Enya to calm the nerves.) Soon enough, you may deviate from your existing “shortest route” algorithms, while being whisked to parts of the city you never otherwise visit. Along the way, you might discover a more pleasant route to the office, or a new place to buy coffee.

But Nuance says it has far bigger plans to make your emotional input valuable: It’s looking into ways to monetize its voice systems, including your emotional input, to directly recommend services and venues to you.

There are more details and a video demonstrating Nuance’s Dragon Drive product in Eaton’s article. As for me, I’m not excited about decreasing my personal agency in an attempt to sell me yet more products and services. But perhaps I’m being overly pessimistic.

Since my weekend is about to start and these items got me to thinking about materials, it seems only right that I end this posting with,

It takes about one minute before the singing starts but it’s worth the wait. Happy weekend!

Bacteria as couture and transgenic salmon?

Trash Fashion, opened at Antenna, a science gallery at London’s Science Museum in June 2010 with a piece of bio couture amongst other ‘trashy’ pieces. According to an article by Suzanne Labarre at Fastcodesign.com,

[Suzanne] Lee, a senior research fellow in the school of fashion and textiles at Central Saint Martins in London, makes clothes from the same microbes used to ferment green tea. By throwing yeast, sweetened tea, and bacteria into bathtubs, she produces sheets of cellulose that can be molded into something you might actually want to wear. (Fortunately, the microbes are non-pathogenic.)

Here’s a close up of Lee’s garment,

Detail of Suzanne Lee's bio couture ruffle jacket (image from Ecouterre via fastcodesign)

Labarre’s article offers more detail about Lee’s work and how it fits into the Science Museum’s Trash Fashion show. The Ecouterre item and images can be found here. You can find London’s Science Museum website here but I had a hard time finding anything more than this about Trash Fashion on their site.

Transgenic salmon

If you think of it as new ways of interacting with various life forms, then these two items can fit together although it is a stretch. In an article written by Ariel Schwartz in a rather provocative style for Fast Company, Schwartz introduces his transgenic salmon by referencing genetically modified food and, in case we missed the point, goes on to call these salmon ‘frankenfish’,

Do genetically modified fruits and vegetables make you uneasy? …

The transgenic salmon is a mash-up of Atlantic salmon, a growth hormone gene from the chinook salmon, and an “on-switch” gene from the ocean pout that triggers the fish to eat year round, according to The Olympian. AquaBounty doesn’t plan to sell the actual salmon. Instead, the company will sell fish eggs to farmers.

Despite its initial frankenfish creepiness, AquaBounty’s salmon has a number of advantages.

Apparently, the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is close to giving its approval to a ‘salmon’ which grows twice as quickly as the ones in the wild. That’s a big advantage given the current issues with faltering salmon stocks on the west coast. From the Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s page on Fisheries Management and Wild Salmon Policy,

There is no question that fisheries management presents complex biological, economic, and political challenges. The status of salmon throughout much of BC and the US Pacific Northwest substantiates this difficulty.

In the lower continental US, salmon have disappeared from 40% of their historic spawning range and commercial fisheries proceed only as exceptions. In British Columbia, commercial catches of salmon between 1995-2005 were the lowest on record and the number of stocks contributing to this catch has declined, shifting over the decades from many diverse runs to fewer large runs.

In 2008, Raincoast published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences on the status of salmon on BC’s central and north coast. Our findings show that since 1950, salmon runs have repeatedly failed to meet their DFO escapement targets – meaning that not enough fish are returning to spawn. This resulted in a diminished status given to all species in nearly every decade. Only 4% of monitored streams consistently met their escapement targets (by decade) since 1950.

Species currently in the worst shape are chinook, chum and sockeye, which were depressed or very depressed in more than 70% of runs (2000-2005; 85%, 72% and 73% respectively). While specific to the north and central coast, this is likely true coast wide.

After the collapse of Canada’s east coast cod fishery, cynics noted that the policies which led to that collapse were being followed on the west coast. In any event, adjustments of some kind will have to be made whether that means going without fish or eating transgenic fish or some other alternative.

ETA Sept 21, 2010: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is holding a hearing about transgenic salmon. Christopher Hickey (at Salon.com) offers a roundup of comments and opinions.