wevolve labs creates a series of lanterns inspired by plant + animal biologies

Designboom_ the BioNest lanterns were created by multidisciplinary collective wevolve labs, for the 2021 creek show in austin, texas. led by nicholas debruyne, the project draws inspiration — in form and material — from the plant and animal biology found in waller creek, where the show takes place. indeed, each lantern is site-specific and identifiable by its bio-material composed of different plant species harvested from various locations in austin and beyond. by adopting a craft and material-based approach, the project becomes a careful study of sustainable design. ‘it aims to join in the conversation on how we can partake in the new circular economy by designing with nature, tradition, and renewable materialism,’ shares debruyne.

debruyne and his team developed the bio-material of each lantern by mixing water, seaweed powder, glycerin, and other ingredients, with heat. everything is then cast into molds before drying. ‘the use of raw materials from renewable biomass sources offers a petroleum-free alternative to plastic that harms our natural ecosystems,’ explains debruyne. meanwhile, the lanterns’ grid-shell frameworks were made by steaming strips of oak and weaving them together, resulting in a lightweight and robust structure. wevolve labs developed this technique through dedicated research into indigenous technology, specifically traditional basketry and skin-on-frame boats. combining those inspirations together, the final installation creates — when night falls — a mesmerizing and ever-changing display that celebrates nature.