micro algae could be the renewable resource we’ve been looking for to power our homes
image courtesy of the mattress factory





despite accounting for less than 1% of the earth’s total biomass, micro algae drives the biological pump which maintains our atmosphere and the balance of ancient matter deposits. the energy dense and nutrient rich material left behind by these microorganisms remains an almost entirely untapped renewable resource by humans. to show the potential, architect jacob douenias and industrial designer ethan frier have created an installation called ‘living things’, where furniture cultivates a symbiotic environment between people and microorganisms. three stations, – a living room, dining room and kitchen each adopting a different bioreactors functioning distinctively in each space. 

micro algae renewable resource designboomimage courtesy of the mattress factory




the hand blown glass vessels are responsible for both lighting and heating for the occupants, where photobioreactors provide heat, light, agitation, air supply, nutrient and waste control to the living algae inside. the whole system is connected through 1/2 mile of wiring and plumbing to main support network in the kitchen, where each of the nine vessels can be adjusted individually. 3D printed nylon knobs actuate eighteen valves which allow for the harvesting algae when it becomes dense enough to supply the installation with energy. the creators hope to see ‘living things’ become a disruptive hardware in new buildings that integrates microorganisms to help supply ballooning energy and population needs.

living-thing-photosythetic-furniture-designboom-03illustration courtesy of jacob douenias and ethan frier


living-thing-photosythetic-furniture-designboom-04image courtesy of the mattress factory


living-thing-photosythetic-furniture-designboom-05image courtesy of the mattress factory


living-thing-photosythetic-furniture-designboom-06image courtesy of the mattress factory


living-thing-photosythetic-furniture-designboom-07image courtesy of the mattress factory


living-thing-photosythetic-furniture-designboom-08image courtesy of the mattress factory


living-thing-photosythetic-furniture-designboom-09image courtesy of the mattress factory


living-thing-photosythetic-furniture-designboom-10image courtesy of the mattress factory


living-thing-photosythetic-furniture-designboom-11image courtesy of the mattress factory