TED Fellow Suzanne Lee is a fashion designer turned biological conjurer, who gleefully plays with new materials and processes.

Why you should listen

Fashion designer Suzanne Lee directs the BioCouture research project, which sprang from an idea in her book Fashioning the Future: Tomorrow’s Wardrobe, a seminal text on fashion and future technologies. Her research harnesses nature to propose a radical future fashion vision: Can we grow a dress from a vat of liquid?

Using bacterial-cellulose, Lee aims to address pressing ecological and sustainability issues around fashion and beyond. A Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, she is working with scientists to investigate whether synthetic biology can engineer optimized organisms for growing future consumer products

What others say

“I’m also creating new bacterial-cellulose composite swatches looking at eco-substrates like hemp. This month I’m teaching an exciting project exploring systems and synthetic biology to postgraduate textile and industrial design students alongside eminent scientists from Cambridge University.” — Suzanne Lee in the TED2011 Fellows guide

Suzanne Lee’s TED talks

Suzanne Lee on the TED Blog

Design

When science meets sartorial: the skirt and shoe made from kombucha

February 5, 2014

What might our clothes look like in 50 years? When textile designer Suzanne Lee was researching her book, Fashioning the Future, she found the most interesting answers to that question when she looked beyond the traditional borders of fashion design. Beyond cut, color and cloth, our style in 50 years will be driven by new materials from […]

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Design

Hypernatural intelligence: A Fellows Friday conversation with Skylar Tibbits and Suzanne Lee

January 25, 2013

Fashion designer and BioCouture founder Suzanne Lee harnesses the labor of microorganisms to grow clothing. Computational architect Skylar Tibbits — who’s setting up a lab at MIT focused on self-assembly technologies and programmable materials — examines biological systems to develop his methods. We asked them to discuss the directions they’re exploring, and the trends and […]

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Quotes from Suzanne Lee

What I’m looking for is a way to give material the qualities that I need. So what I want to do is say to a future [insect], ‘Spin me a thread. Align it in this direction. Make it hydrophobic. And while you’re at it, just form it around this 3D shape.’
Suzanne Lee
TED2011 • 925K views May 2011
Ingenious, Fascinating