Hello all, I'm Tom


Hello BioFab Forum,

To introduce myself, I’m an Industrial & Service Designer from Mechelen, working at a Design, Engineering and Innovation Consultancy company called Achilles Design.

Since I was little, I had both a passion for nature (from bugs to plants, always looking things up) and being creative. When time came to make a decision on what to study, I was in doubt between studying medicine, bio-engineering or industrial design. I picked the last one and after 5 years studying, started working at Achilles. Over the last years, while doing amazing innovation and product design projects, it became clear for me that there’s still a long way corporates and (traditional) SME’s to even adopt sustainable thinking (not yet: producing sustainably) in their processes. And even myself as a designer, I can still learn a lot. So my main personal goal is -quite cliché- trying to contribute to a more sustainable future through good design and knowledge in sustainable production.

I joined this forum after seeing some cool posts on Instagram by OVAM, where GLIMPSE was featured with the mycelium tiles. After some looking around, I found this forum and I knew this seemed like my holy grail, the crossroads of design, science, experimentation and nature where I was looking for. :slight_smile:

Still absolutely new to all of this stuff, so I’m starting from scratch.
But my first project is already brewing/growing, as I tried the nice guide about Bacterial Leather.
No specific project in mind yet, but there are some ideas floating around.
Such as: can you trap a rigid body (eg. 3D-printed stick structure) inside a SCOBY, in such a way that when it’s encapsulated and dried, you gain some extra properties such as origami-like features?

Other then that, I’m also growing a plant called ‘pollia condensata’, which produces blue fruit with the most intense structural coloration (blue) observed in nature. They sprouted, so if I succeed in raising and getting them to develop fruit, there might be some cool project in it too. Growing plants with peculiar features is also something I do in my spare time, altough this is a fairly “passive” activity.

I also really like to brainstorm, come up with ideas for projects (not in the context of my current employment but as a hobby), learn and meet people. I don’t know any of you (yet) but I look forward in attending workshops or meetups,… So if you want a creative second opinion, I’d be happy to share my experience!

Thanks and nice to meet you soon!



Nice to meet you @TomV! Being faced with a choice of career is something many of us can relate to. Myself I ended up choosing bio-engineering, but now I work more in design than biosciences. I’ve come to find that the really interesting stuff happens in between disciplines. No regrets here for the choice, but it’s a bit of a shame that traditional education is slow to evolve.

That plant looks amazing, so I can’t not share a picture here :wink:

Since you’re in Belgium, feel free to drop by at ReaGent some time. Lots of curious designers/researchers/whoever trying out stuff with biology there, more than happy to meet you :slight_smile:


Thanks Winnie!

I’ll certainly will drop by some time!
Since I’m new to this, are there any projects “to plug into”?
I will certainly attend some workshops, but there might be easier ways to find an introduction in real life :slight_smile:

Also, I think we’ve already met once (briefly) earlier this year, where I co-facilitated a workshop at OVAM regarding a new sustainability tool.

About the Pollia Condensata:
If I can get this plant to produce the berries, I want to find out whether the pulverized or cut-up berries
can serve as a way to give Bacterial Leather a ‘metallic’ effect. As a coating or as an additive inside the material.
At least, if it survives our indoor climate here first :smile:
Will keep this forum posted, but in the meantime I’ll start with the basics.


@LynnJosephy has made some metallic leather using resin and indigo. It’s pretty amazing how “futuristic” it looks with just biological ingredients. Almost like black latex I think.

I remember the workshop! Small world :slight_smile: We might organize a biofabrication meetup again on a Saturday afternoon this summer. That’s a good time to discover or present projects and spend some time hacking together on them. Thursday open evenings are also a good time.

If I’m around Mechelen, I’ll ping you!


Hi Yes, this is what it looks like. And I’ve also made origami with the kombuchaleather but without growing a structure inside; just by folding. Which works pretty good as Well. When making smaller models the leather has to be thinner and Thicker when the model is bigger. Those berries look awesome by the way!! I also want to find a way to make an iridescent surface with plants. I was looking this up yesterday evening. There also some seaseeds that are iridescent. I was thinking about How I could incorporate or apply that on the kombuchaleather. But I’m not sure yet How. And I don’t want the leather to smell like seaweed. If you have any ideas do let me know :wink:


@LynnJosephy That looks amazing!

What resin did you use? And how/where did you extract the indigo?

I like your origami experiments. I have made origami lampshades in the past.
Maybe you can take a look at some structural origami. There’s a book called “Origami Techniques for Designers: From Sheet to From” by Paul Jackson. I’ve played around with creating that shape and coating it with regular resing so you end up with a mold. It would be cool to somehow dry a scoby onto that shape?
Or even use the properties of “collapsible origami leather sheets” to acquire some functional purpose (eg. bellows, inflatable structures, collapsible temporary shelters or bags,…)

Either way, keep me posted on your experiments!


@winnieponcelet Yes, let me know when you’re around!
And during summer I’ll try to hop in some time!