Julian Melchiorri (Materials Innovation, 2017)Silk Leaf

Julian Melchiorri

Fellow in 2017 for Materials Innovation

My time was spent exploring how advances in biotechnology and engineering can be applied to everyday objects and architecture to increase the quality of our lives.

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Julian Melchiorri is a British-Italian artist and inventor whose work sits between art and science, involving biotechnology and light driven phenomena in an investigation into the impacts of future technologies in our everyday life and environment,

During the final year of his Double MA/ MSc in Innovation Design Engineering (Royal College of Art/ Imperial College), Melchiorri used a mix of biochemistry, micro fluidics and hand-crafting to create the first man-made biological leaf that can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Silk Leaf (2014) allowed him to reimagine urban environments which could use this novel biomaterial to instigate photosynthesis which he sees as ‘the most important chemical process on earth’. The Silk Leaf project led to new opportunities notably the setting up of Melchiorri’s ‘Arborea’ research practice in 2015, where he started developing his BioSolar Leaf using a completely new material and living microorganism. As he explains Melchiorri fully intends to “bring biological resources into our everyday life”.

Melchiorri spoke at the Biomimicry Symposium, V&A (2016) about his research and delivered a TEDx Cibeles talk – ‘Silk Leaf’: revolutionising our urban environment’ in Madrid (2015). A special experimental project on the Silk Leaf Membrane was also featured at the Venice Biennale in 2015.

Melchiorri was a part of London art collective Random International where he explored the connections between digital and physical reality through interactive technological experiments and massive-scale art installations using digital, sensing, robotic and hydraulic technologies. As part of the Art Wise Curators’ ‘Here For the Future’ project, Melchiorri curated and exhibited at Here Today… (2014) in the Old Sorting Office, Holborn.