Design is in a new era where it must acknowledge and address the accelerating degradation of the natural environment. There is a huge imperative to understand and respect the fragile nature of ecological systems and fulfill our moral obligation to the future of all life. Design today has the capacity, both intellectually and emotionally to address the complex new ways in which we can intertwine this understanding of our natural systems into the fabric of our everyday lives. This may be through effective systems of species nurturing to prevent extinction, to explore the food maps of societies to prevent homogenizing of seeds and foods, to enhance the nutrient content of food to deliver more efficient nourishment, to limit the extent of unnecessary food processing or to transform attitudes to the ownership of food production. This studio aims to empower students to explore these, and other diverse ideas around design and the plant world. To extract from this an ecological consciousness, an awareness of the dialogue and critical ideas around this area, and to respond to the germane emotional responses that this may inspire within design practitioners. The first objective of the studio is to deliver content in the form of films, readings and resources. (Students are expected to access and internalize those resources that cannot be addressed in class, in their own time.) This establishes the basis for the second aspect of the studio – where students will develop a proposition for a project that is focused around the biological (plant) world.

Furthermore, the objective of this studio also extends to develop and curate a range of resources and methods that can contribute to the establishment of a more well explored Bio-design engagement from within the industrial design student community.

You will undertake site visits to beautiful locations to inform a range of responses to natural and constructed environments.

You will learn how to identify, illustrate and research the potential applications and uses for plants and plant material.

You will contribute to a Herbarium compendium, in the form of illustration and drawing, plant identification, narrative/storytelling, and photography.

You will use then these intensive inputs to develop and produce a design project that engages living systems as its primary focus.

herbarium wordcloud


Are plants intelligent? New book says yes.

Are plants intelligent? New book says yes.

A new book, Brilliant Green, argues that not only are plants intelligent and sentient, but that we should consider their rights, especially in the midst of the Sixth Mass Extinction Read about the book here

The Economics of Biophilia

The Economics of Biophilia

Why designing with nature in mind makes financial sense Biophilia, the innate human attraction to nature, is a concept that has been recognized for several decades by the scientific and design communities, and intuitively for hundreds of...

I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer — and what trees and seasons smelled like — how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odors is very rich.

John Steinbeck

East of Eden

About Herbaria

A herbarium (plural: herbaria)  is a collection of preserved plant specimens. These specimens may be whole plants or plant parts: these will usually be in a dried form mounted on a sheet but, depending upon the material, may also be kept in alcohol or other preservative. The same term is often used in mycology to describe an equivalent collection of preserved fungi, otherwise known as a fungarium.

The term can also refer to the building where the specimens are stored or to the scientific institute that not only stores but researches these specimens. The specimens in a herbarium are often used as reference material in describing plant taxa; some specimens may be types.

A xylarium is a herbarium specialising in specimens of wood. A hortorium (as in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium) is one specialising in preserved specimens of cultivated plants. –Wikipedia

From The School of Botany, Melbourne University: A guide on how to make your own Herbarium Here.

The Virtual Herbarium

Australia’s herbaria house over seven million plant, algae and fungi specimens. Herbarium specimens are an important resource for research on the Australian flora and provide a permanent record of the occurrence of a species at a particular place and time. AVH provides access to the collecting data associated with these specimens.

National Herbarium of Victoria

About the Herbarium

The National Herbarium of Victoria at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (MEL) houses a collection of approximately 1.5 million dried plant, algae and fungi specimens from all around the world. The majority of the collection is Australian, with a particular emphasis on the flora of Victoria.

The Harvard Herbarium

The Harvard University Herbaria include six collections and more than five million specimens of algae, bryophytes, fungi, and vascular plants. Together they form one of the largest university herbarium collections in the world.

Australian Botanical Illustration

Index to coloured illustrations of Australian plants

Books that explore some of the ideas of the studio.

Here in a quiet and dusty room they lie,
Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand,
Forlorn as ashes, shrivelled, scentless, dry –
Meadows and gardens running through my hand.
In this brown husk a dale of hawthorn dreams;
A cedar in this narrow cell is thrust
That will drink deeply of a century’s streams;
These lilies shall make summer on my dust.
Here in their safe and simple house of death,
Sealed in their shells, a million roses leap;
Here I can blow a garden with my breath,
And in my hand a forest lies asleep.

Muriel Stuart, The Seed Shop

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V – William Shakespeare

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,

love, remember: and there is pansies. that’s for thoughts.

There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue

for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it

herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with

a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you

some violets, but they withered all when my father

died: they say he made a good end,–“