2012 / design and science in dialogue

This project was the result of collaboration between the Experience Design Group at Konstfack and scientist from KTH University. The aim was to explore if and how an experience designer could interpret and communicate the research of a scientist to make it understandable and memorable for a broader audience. Epigenetic Poetry is the outcome of the several dialogues between designer Pomme van Hoof and biochemist Anna Ohlsson. 

Anna works with ecological methods for plant protection. She prepares trees for future dangers, by activating the plant’s chemical defence mechanism at an early stage when the tree is still a seed. She uses epigenetics to do so.


“epigenetics is a mechanism that determines when and where different genes should be activated. Well, we have the DNA, a sequence with bases in a certain order, that’s were we have the genes. But all DNA is not used and all genes are not used at the same time.”

As a starting point to communicate Anna's research, one page out of the book The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge was taken, a page which explains the plant’s protection mechanisms. By treating the text as if it were DNA, and opening up and closing down different words, hidden stories became visible.

This final work was produced and presented at Konstfack over a course of 3 hours during an opening for the public. From a workstation stories were created within the page's DNA, printed out and placed on the wall. The format made people curious and served as an invitation to discuss the topic further. 



Team: In collaboration with Anna Ohlsson KTH university
Course: Experience Design Group Konstfack, Biomimesis in design and science, course leaders: Anna Maria Orru, Åsmund Gamlesæter, Dr Mikael Lindstrom.
Date: February 2012