Thora Arnardottir (Bio Design, 2023)Thora Arnardottir, Bacterial Sculpting, 2022

Thora Arnardottir

Shortlisted in 2023 for Bio Design

Thora Arnardottir was raised in Iceland, where she grew to think within the framework of an osmotic relationship between the artificial and the natural. For her, environmentally conscious design should be addressed in all its intricate relationships, from the broad impact of pollution to the minute interactions between bacterial cells and our material use. Focusing on the latter in her most recent work, she develops approaches to integrating biological systems in the built environment through design methods and innovative biofabrication techniques.

During her PhD at the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment, she developed expertise in designing novel fabrication methods that utilise bacterial biomineralisation to form calcified biocomposite materials—centering on the possibility of integrating biotic agency in the expression and formation of the material. Being formally trained in Architecture with a BA from Arts University Bournemouth, she moved closer to the intersection of design and biology at the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, where she completed her Masters.

In 2017, she co-founded the collective BioBabes to disseminate and explore how these biological interactions affect our design experiences. Thora has always been interested in how nature and design come together, and a big part of this collective’s mission involves reflecting on how we represent nature’s agency in our design. Through BioBabes, she has explored different biofabrication processes and developed wearable designs to represent altered perspectives of biomaterials to the public. More recently, Thora established Unruly Matters; a start-up focused on design-led biomaterial innovation and biomineralised product development.