Images via Vanessa Harden and Dezeen
What, I hear you ask, is an 'Interspecies Collaboration'? Well, RCA design graduates Vanessa Harden, Kevin Hill and Ben Faga have the answer in their project Built By. This amazing endeavour see humans and bees working together, in what these designers call an 'Interspecies Collaboration', to produce structural detailing for furnishings. This is what their bespoke bee hive looks like...
Last month at Designers Block, during the London Design Festival, the Built By team presented their project to build a baby's crib from cast metal honeycomb from their beehives that live on the roof of their studio in London. The Hives have been custom designed by Ben Faga to enable the bees to build the honeycomb directly onto the structure of the crib.
Vanessa Harden explains the project:
The first venture using this unique process is to create a hive crafted baby crib. This artifact reflects the life giving relationship that bees have with the honeycomb. The crib symbolises the hope of a future pairing between humankind and the environment in the creation of products. It is a reminder that we must create objects that shape cultural values towards a codependent future.
concept drawing of the baby's crib - illustration by Minho Kwon
One of the most unusual things about the Built By project is its slow design process. The designers expect it to take about a year for the bees to build a sufficient amount of honeycomb to make the Edwardian style crib and that is only the first product in what they hope will be an ongoing series.
Kevin Hill explains their special interspecies process of crib building:
The 3rd chapter will not have the elements of the crib put into the hive, there will be an annex built beside the hive that will form a playground area for the bees to build wax textures more freely. This means that we will not be removing any of their architectural honeycomb at the end of the season and it's the reason that we are in fact working in co-creation with the bees, rather then unfairly manipulating or using them to do something that would damage the hive.
In the meantime all sorts of other side products will be made such as bees wax, honey and even bespoke wallpaper printed with each unique honeycomb structure, forming quite a little cottage industry from the roof of the studio.
The Built By project started out in an earlier incarnation as a project to build a bench. Harden says:
The furniture is designed and fabricated to symbolize two as a pair, allowing humankind to recognize and appreciate the commonalities that form humanity.
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