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Is Spirulina Furniture the Future of Interior Decor?

Photosynthetic algae decks the halls of a futuristic home concept at the Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art.

by Sami Emory
May 26 2015, 8:45pm

All photos courtesy of the Mattress Factory, Photos: Tom Little Photography LLC. 

Spirulina makes for a surprisingly chic interior decoration—that is, if you have an eye for aesthetic algae like designers Jacob Douenias and Ethan Frier. In Livings Things, installed at the Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh, the recent Carnegie-Mellon graduates harness the light, heat, and beauty of the photosynthetic cyanobacteria cultivated in baths of alkaline water. Chosen for its rich green hue, light absorbency, and culinary qualities—chefs and bartenders incorporate the organism's powdered form into edible additions throughout the duration of the show—the liquid plant shines through three areas of a futuristic home in oblong, multi-purpose glass vessels. “The morphologies of hand-blown glass vessels function both as lighting and heating elements for the human occupants, and high functioning photobioreactors which provide heat, light, agitation, air supply, nutrient and waste control to the living algae inside," Douenias and Frier explain in their press release. They separate their photosynthetic fixtures into three "vignettes"—a dining room and living room illuminated by mounted, hanging, and grounded lights and a concealed control center—linked by just under half a mile of a plumbing and wiring. At the control center, "each of the nine vessels' life support systems can be adjusted individually," they say. "The 3D printed nylon knobs embedded in the surface of this workstation actuate eighteen valves which allow for the harvesting of Spirulina when the culture becomes dense enough, and the supply of fresh liquid media to each vessel. Inside the cabinet the pumps, tubing, manifolds, LED drivers, air pumps, heater connections and filters which comprise the heart of the life support system.”

Get your fill of the photosynethetic features of Douenias and Frier's futuristic home in GIFs, pics, and the installation's video below. 

GIF by the author, via

Living Things will remain at the Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art through March 27, 2016. Find more information on the installation on museum's website

Related: 

Landscape Photos "Grown" On Light-Sensitive Algae

The Sights (and Smells) of Anicka Yi's Bacteria Art Show

Light Painting with Plankton Makes Ethereal Portraits