Living Things Installation Imagines A Future Home Filled With Photosynthetic Furniture


While the various elements in this installation look like decorative lighting objects, they aren’t. Instead, they might well become the protein source of our future. At least, that’s the concept imagined by the minds behind Living Things, a collection of photosynthetic furniture that future homes can use to grow food indoors.

Created by architectural designer Jacob Douenias and industrial designer Ethan Frier, the pieces are designed to grow spirulina (blue-green algae), a tiny, edible bacteria that can be grown without the large footprint of conventional agriculture.   Not only is it edible, it’s protein-rich, making them a potentially viable food source for the future.


In Living Things, the microorganisms are cultivated inside custom-made bioreactors made from glass, which can be hung from ceilings like pendant lamps, placed on floors like sculptures, or set up on table surfaces. Each of the bioreactors use a series of wires and pipes to connect to a life support system housed inside a cabinet, which houses an array of pumps, tubes, manifolds, air pumps, heater connections, filters, and driver electronics, apart from connecting with various home utilities the system requires to operate. Harvesting requires just turning the tap and collecting the bacteria, which can be used to produce different types of drinks and dishes. Granted, eating algae may not exactly be the future foodies always dreamed of, but knowing it’s a possible option does give a glimmer of hope, even if worse does come to worse.


Living Things is currently on exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh, where it will run until March 27th of next year.