Who are you?
I’m Kate Reed, a designer based in Boston, and currently the Artist in Residence at Solidworks Dassault Systemes and at Boslab (Boston Open Science Laboratory).
What do you make?
I build wearable technology that interfaces humans, computers, and the natural world. As a self made designer, engineer, and biologist, I am enthralled with natural processes and their ability to enhance the human condition. This fascination propels my work to create new interfaces between humans, computers and the natural world.
How did you get started making stuff?
I’ve been making my entire life, I don’t recall when exactly it started. It was a natural evolution, first it was sticks and stones, then basic computers, now advanced groundbreaking wearable technology.
Now, I work mostly with natural systems and living algorithms, I think of myself as a facilitator between biological processes and computational processes in the design process.
How did you land on these incredible bio inspired wearable pieces?
I have always been drawn to the natural world and fascinated by the latest and greatest technology. So when I began making wearables, I knew nature needed to play a huge role. One day I thought, if I want to make technology that feels natural to our bodies, why not allow nature to design the technology herself?
It began with the Biomimicry Collection, which creates wearables using parametric design to emulate natural growth patterns that are then simulated, captured and 3D printed. These 3D prints are then adorned with living organisms to create symbiotic interfaces between the digital and the physical. Beyond Biomimicry is driven by interspecies collaboration, both computationally and physically, to simulate how nature would respond to scenarios of interaction with various parts of the human anatomy. This results in ecologically empowered, unique wearable objects that evolve our thinking for the future of wearable technology.
This project was made by looking to nature and allowing it to communicate with humans and computers within the same medium of computational space. By beginning to understand the growth processes of nature, I could collaborate with it to create authentic simulations.
What kind of software/hardware goes into making one of these?
My work has a strong relationship between craft and computation. I believe that once a craft is understood to its core, we can begin to break past traditional craft, move beyond, and explore the new. Technology has an amazing opportunity to enhance traditional craft practices to allow for designs and processes that go beyond our bodies natural capabilities. Once I started to understand how to work with technology, my mindset shifted from designing products to designing processes.
I work a lot with parametric design softwares such as Rhino and xGenerative to model natural growth processes that I can then apply to designs I am working on.
What is an unforseen complexity or problem that caused you to have to figure out a
solution when making these?
Nature is the best problem solver there is. Life finds a way, right? So when I run into an unforeseen problem, I just listen deeply to nature and in time, it helps me find a really novel solution. I believe we must allow our beginnings, our ancient roots in biology, to be the design voice for our technology.
what kind of thing do you have your eyes on next?
I’m really interested in morphogenesis in the design process.
I aim to continue my research into evolution to create interfaces and manufacturing processes that are symbiotic between humans, computers, and the natural world. By taking a holistic approach and blending disciplines, I seek to crack the code of morphogenesis.
Natural systems are messy and imprecise, yet they frequently outperform our existing technology. I envision a future where biology interfaces directly with technology without humans being involved, to create living and evolving computers. Right now, our technology relies far too much on the human, and because of this, it is not serving the human. We are becoming operators and vehicles for machines because we have not taken advantage of their ability to grow and design themselves. The ability to create evolutions has applications far beyond the natural world.
We are at a fragile moment in human history. We have blurred the connection between digital and physical worlds, and our methods of interfacing and creating are no longer sustainable to our bodies or our planet.