interior design

 Department of Seaweed: a transdisciplinary platform for exploration of seaweed

Treating seaweed as a sustainable resource of the future and gather together experts from different fields who work with seaweed as material is the main goal of the platform.

The Organization

The founding members of Department of Seaweed (DoS) are:

  • Julia Lohmann (Professor for Design at Aalto Universität in Helsinki, Finland)
  • Violain Buet (Studio for the research and creative development of macroalgae, Auray, France)
  • Jon Lister (Designer – Maker, New Zealand)
  • Rolf Kellner (Architect and City Planner, Hamburg, Germany)
  • Jana Hinners (Biologist, Edinburgh, UK)
  • Miryam Pippich (Designer, Oslo, Norway)
  • Gero Grundmann (Designer and Illustrator, Helsinki, Finland)
  • Florian Andrews (Circular Economy, Hamburg, Germany)

The DoS is a transdisciplinary platform for the exploration of seaweed as a sustainable resource. It is dedicated to certain values in order to achieve the status of the transdisciplinary platform:

  • The DoS is a broad, transparent, accessible, inclusive, global, co-creative and collaborative institution.
  • The DoS is doing research for understanding, making and design. Openness for everything and innovation are objectives.
  • The DoS is open to the whole range of algae and seaweed: from macro algae to phytoplankton.
  • The DoS is dedicated to the ideas and patterns of sustainability. It works eco-system and regional based, local oriented, and with the perspective of long term for the seaweed and mankind. The DoS supports the ideas of circular economy.
  • The DoS will treat all matters with respect, because seaweed might be a resource for future solutions, things and products. Seaweed is a natural occurring material with a long heritage in ingredients, knowledge and skills.

The idea

The DoS sees macroalgae as a lens for understanding the presence and looking to the future. Besides the concrete research and development of algae as a creative material - as a possible replacement for leather, textile, wood, paper and plastic - the DoS creates future scenarios, gained from a network of perspectives of participants from different disciplines. In this way it is possible to recognize whether these are dystopias or utopias and which of them can be transferred as case studies to the use of other natural resources. Together, they have set themselves the goal of testing new forms of cooperation on the basis of algae, building up a body of knowledge for sustainable design with algae and countering the 'gold rush', in the course of which algae are praised as the new oil, with a nuanced discourse and local action in the global network.

The DoS produces content in dialogue with experts from science, justice, crafts, politics, philosophy and the material use of algae as a material.

DoS organizes successfully workshops with various guests and other public events. The DoS is to become an expanding network of experts, project partners and guests.

Read more

Through the ALLIANCE we aim to find new partners for our transdisciplinary platform. We also want to learn from the Submariner Network experience when it comes to creation of the proper legal form." -

  • Florian Andrews  

    Department of Seaweed

The allies

DoS cooperates mainly with Submariner Network when being involved into the ALLIANCE. For a national outreach abroad, the following ALLIANCE partners offered help to DoS: Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Tartu Biotechnology Park and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. KosterAlg could potentially deliver the seaweed.

The main needs of DoS are:

  • Support in legal advice to set up the association ("Verein") and the limited company ("GmbH")
  • Help in business advice to set up the business (e.g. crowdfunding, Yearly Editions of Art & Design, Business Incentives/Workshops/Inspirational talks)
  • Organizational support for strengthening and expanding the network
  • Financial support for meetings