aspect-ratio 10x9

Rising sea levels, forest fires and species extinction – global interdependencies and increasingly rapidly changing living conditions put the power of the elements on display for us in a way rarely seen before. Elements – chemical pure substances, indivisible, fundamental?

From the alchemical four-element doctrine to biological atomism and microspheres to macrocosmic forces beyond human imagination: "What holds the world together at its core" is the theme of this year's edition of "Future of Life - ELEMENTALS" – an explorative summer school program from July 25-29, 2023 at the University of Arts and Design, organized by the Bio Design Lab team. The four thematic strands FIRE, WATER, EARTH, AIR provide deeper insights into the enabling conditions of those (material) connections and natural forces. By means of artistic-creative as well as experimental approaches, speculative scenarios emerge, which ask: What is the elementary of shared coexistence?

The closed day program offers 50 international students from 12 countries four parallel workshops led by renowned designers as well as guided tours to workshop-specific locations, laboratories and partner institutions such as the KIT and the ZKM.
The results of the content-related discussions will be presented on Saturday, July 29, 11:00 a.m. in a concluding work show at the HfG.

In a public evening program (26. + 27.07, 19:00 each) various lectures, presentations as well as panel discussions will take place and broaden the perspective on the overall topic around ELEMENTALS.

Contact: Julia Ihls (Leitung Bio Design Lab)
Email: /
Social Media/Instagram: @future_of_life_school @biodesignlab_hfgk @hfg_ka


The summer program offers an open evening program accessible to the general public. Various talks, presentations and panel discussions broaden the perspective to ELEMENTALS topic.

DECARBONISING THE FUTURE: Exploring new vernaculars // July 26th, 19:00
in collaboration with ZKM.

This panel talk is open for the general public.

We have arrived at a time that calls for new learnings and actions in order to sustain a synergy with our ecosystem. This new discourse is of utmost importance as it will directly influence the thinking to come. A turn to the elemental: past practices coinciding with future thinking. This event is dedicated to exploring new forms of value harvesting, symbiotic relationships and the turn to nature.

Post Carbon Lab (Transdisciplinary biodesign research & development practice)
Helen Pynor (Artist and researcher)
Karin Anna Pittman (Marine biologist)
Prof. Peter Nick (Molecular biologist)

Moderator: Anett Holzheid (scientific consultant at ZKM | Karlsruhe directorate)

ELEMENTAL FRICTIONS: Living with the extremes // July 27th, 19:00

This panel talk is open for the general public.

What happens when elementals go out of balance due to human induced activity? From frequent heat waves, extreme storms and powerful turbulences to potentially monetising clean air and fresh water. This panel talk will put the elementals into question: Who is in and who is out of control? Who is the conflictor? How do we live in times of constant shift between balance and turmoil?

Studio ThusThat (Material-based Design practice with a focus on materials and alternative making processes)
Martin Müller (Cultural Theory and Critical History of Biotechnology)
Fernando Casillas Bernal (Environmental Governance and Sustainability specialist)
Prof. Matthias Bruhn (Professor for Art Research and Media Theory)

Moderator: Julia Ihls (Head of Bio Design HfG Karlsruhe)


The daytime program offers four parallel workshops led by renowned designers as well as guided tours to workshop-specific sites, labs and partner institutions, such as the ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe).

Invisible to the naked eye, nevertheless omnipresent and essential for life – soil, a universe of complex network systems and exchange of information. A time capsule holding data about natural cycles and human-induced processes.
Together we will dive into the depths of soil, explore the symbiotic relationships to create various artefacts and prototypes with the help of the invisible micro-friends.

Workshop lead: Post Carbon Lab
Order of magnitude = -2 (N = α x 10-2)

The Rhein river passing through Karlsruhe has been an important regional waterway for over 100 years. How have the numerous commodity chains across the river produced a landscape and impacted its biota, banks and waters? What dependencies and synergies emerge between history, trade, industries, pollution and ecology? The participants in this workshop will reveal chains of events, effects and metabolic cycles through experimental tools for visualisation.

Workshop lead: Steffie de Gaetano & Giulia Pompilj
Order of magnitude = 5 (N = α x 105)

Fire - the beginning and the end. The fuel for human evolution and revolution. The final transformation of resources, materials, energy and even waste.
This workshop will use fire as a starting point and explore the different relationship aspects with this natural phenomenon and create narratives of historical and social context.

Workshop Lead: Studio ThusThat
Order of magnitude = 1 (N = α x 101)

Air does not obey nor care about human-made territorial borders, yet it affects and activates various material thresholds. It redraws maps that emphasize airborne events as cartographic markers. How could we experience and analyze the interscalar elusiveness of air through climatic phenomena and strange entities such as sky rivers and air fossils?
This speculative workshop will explore the scientific, theoretical and ecological ways of aerial witnessing by means of designerly knowing and un/making.

Workshop lead: interdisciplinary collective at Matters of Activity (Léa Perraudin, Emilia Tikka, Martin Müller and Clemens Winkler)
Order of magnitude = 7 (N = α x 107)

Diesen Beitrag Teilen auf

More Events