Emma van der Leest


We have to reinvent materials instead of products.

As a biodesigner, Emma collaborates with different disciplines, including scientists, physicists, artists and designers. Biodesign, which is based on the principles of biofabrication, is a field that emerged out of regenerative medicine technologies. Biodesign incorporates living organisms e.g. bacteria, fungi, algae or cells into the design process. By discovering materials and processes, that nature has designed but hasn’t patented, we can search for new materials that are grown completely compostable and minimize the use of hazardous resources that cause huge damage to our ecosystem.

Through her strong design, Emma has a compelling story. Trained as a product designer Emma completed her undergraduate degree in Product Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 2015 (cum laude), where she now teaches. She creates crossovers with craft, scientific research and new production techniques. In her work, Emma aims to create environments where boundaries dissolve, where different disciplines meet and can learn from others.

During her studies, Emma did an internship at Biocouture London, world’s first bio creative consultancy, and now works as a production associate of the annual Biofabricate conference, an initiative from Suzanne Lee, founder of Biocouture. Emma is freelance lecturer at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam and Design Academy in Eindhoven.

Emma is the founder and creative director of the BlueCity Lab, a laboratory where she opens up a wet and drylab for anyone who wants to research and develop new materials, from bacteria to waste streams following Blue Economy Principles. BlueCity Lab is located in the former Tropicana swimming pool in Rotterdam.