LAUFEN confronts the taboo of human faeces at vienna design week 2019

LAUFEN confronts the taboo of human faeces at vienna design week 2019

the scientific experimentation of bioart meets sustainable solutions at the LAUFEN showroom and innovation hub during vienna design week 2019. the exhibition encompasses ‘circular flows’ and the topic of human waste, its negative management, and possible solutions for the future. from immersive live performances to forward-thinking prototypes, three pioneering projects unite to break this thematization of a taboo, and each encourage helpful ideas.

LAUFEN confronts the taboo of human faeces at vienna design week 2019
Save! toilet at the XXII international exhibition
all images courtesy of LAUFEN



first unveiled at the XXII international exhibition of la triennale di milano as part of the ‘broken nature‘ exhibition, EOOS’ ‘Save!’ toilet takes center stage at LAUFEN’s showroom. as the world’s first gravity flushed urine separation toilet, the design contains the nitrogen from human urine, prevents the harmful toxins from entering natural waterways, and reclaims it as a valuable resource, which, for example, can be used as fertilizer for agriculture. the innovative prototype is then juxtaposed with two artworks from the field of bioart at the exhibition.

LAUFEN confronts the taboo of human faeces at vienna design week 2019
its design uses gravity to trap the urine



acting with as much fanfare and intrigue as a fairground attraction, lucie strecker’s live performance, titled ‘brains’ shit for shit brains’, addresses the still taboo topic of faeces. the act harvests bacterium that could cause disease from a diverse selection of people, portraying art as medicine, and sparring design solutions against human survival. it speculates the importance of microbial – genetic and biological – diversity in socio-political contexts.

LAUFEN confronts the taboo of human faeces at vienna design week 2019
the making of ‘brains’ shit for shit brains’



on the one hand, this performance is a grotesque game with our body openings and excretions. on the other hand, it is a confrontation with socio-political and ecological contexts. Especially new insights into the microbiome show how complex the symbiosis of humans and micro-organisms are, and how it is influenced not only by our biological environment but also by social spaces. here sets my artistic work: it speculates about how metabolic systems become political systems – and vice versa,explains the artist.


molecular queering agency by mary maggic



mary maggic – an american artist and organic hacker – conceptually and exploratively tracks the flow of urine up to the molecular level in two sets of videos. in her first visual, ‘molecular queering agency’ focuses on the human handling of toxic molecules in waters. in the second media, ‘housewives making drugs’ proposes how molecules could be extracted from ground water for private hormone therapy and human colonization. as if a cooking show, the scene shows transwomen sharing a DIY estrogen recipe where the hormones are extracted and recycled from urine.

housewives making drugs by mary maggic



pairing LAUFEN, EOOS and eawag’s innovative ‘Save!’ toilet with the taboo-breaking topics of lucie strecker and marg maggic’s work highlights our much needed discussions about human waste management. the bioart exhibition asks how artists encounter the fact that mankind is turning the world into a large experiemental laboratory with an uncertain outcome. ‘Save!’ challenges the unchanged methods we have disposed of excretion for centuries, and the ‘dead zones’ of too much nutrient input that we have created. pairing bioart with innovation, LAUFEN at vienna design week 2019 strives to promote further ideas on how to redesign wastewater treatment.

LAUFEN confronts the taboo of human faeces at vienna design week 2019
molecular queering agency by mary maggic


LAUFEN confronts the taboo of human faeces at vienna design week 2019
housewives making drugs by mary maggic



exhibition info:


brand: LAUFEN

title: circular flows

location: LAUFEN showroom and innovation hub, vienna

dates: 27 september – 4 october, 2019

event: vienna design week 2019

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