Cristina Muñoz Hidalgo
"Es Fantástico"
Cristina Muñoz is a designer, her projects apply participatory design as a tool to create individual and collective experiences.
We talked with Cristina to find out more about her project.
— When did you start working with biomaterials?
— I started with biomaterials since 2014 followed by my curiosity about materials. While studying in London, I started with small 'experiments' throughout initial workshops such as cultivating kombucha to make biotextiles in a workshop with Suzanne Lee; then I started growing slime mold throughout a workshop with Heather Barnett. Back in Ecuador, I was looking to work on a collaboration with someone using biomaterials. In 2017 I met Chemist José Francisco Álvarez, who leads the Biomaterials Laboratory IDEMA, at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, were we both work. His research focuses on bioplastics and biomaterials coming from polysaccharides such as starch and pectins from waste and agro-industrial by-products. When I saw the samples in petri scale (laboratory scale) they were amazing: transparent, flexible, fluffy, and textured. It came to my mind the thousand possibilities that these materials have. Thus, we brought together engineering and design, to scale the size of the material in order to generate applications from starch-based agro-industrial waste. In 2018, thanks to research funds granted by USFQ for collaborative projects, we managed to start scaling. From this moment on, I started working with biomaterials for real.
— How did you come to the idea of the exhibition? And how the process of preparation was going on?
— The value of making bioplastics goes beyond the pursuit of scaling up mass production; it is a call to raise awareness about our waste managing habits and how there are alternatives within our domestic space and agro-industrial level. I think there is a need to share these ideas to the public and art is a medium to make this information digestible. While creating prototypes I had constant conversations with my colleague and artist Paul Rosero C., exchanging ideas regarding the possibilities of the material and the future we imagine out of this. That is how I started working on an exhibit proposal with him as the curator. The process of preparation was a bit chaotic because everything is made from scratch at the lab: the biomaterial, natural dies, design, prototypes, production. It was lots of work but definitely I enjoyed a lot.
— What surprised you in this research/artistic journey?
— I think that I got surprised by the agency of the biomaterials to question our present. From a design perspective I pursue possible applications based on a circular relationship with the natural resources for the production of everyday objects. In the process, new questions arisen. Can we create a collective consciousness to develop sustainable processes? Is it feasible to adapt our daily life to the wise metabolism of the natural? The system in which production and waste is managed needs to be questioned. This is economic, political, and social; we live in a marked linear life system, which facilitates irresponsible purchase and disposal. I think this research shown through art is able to show this statement.
— What is this eco aesthetic for you?
— It is perfectly imperfect. It is unique and the beauty is also perceived in its process of creation. The fact that it doesn't seek a standardized mass production brings other future aesthetic embracing beauty based on its positive impact. Maybe is a new beauty driven on the acceptance of sustainable models.
— How do you see the future of bio materials in our life?
— I think they will be more and more common. It is now that the future of these materials is being created. Currently there is a community of biomanufacturers worldwide. It is interesting how this community is growing with particularities based on the material abundances they find in their territories. To take this to another level we must implement real sustainable options with the environment that depends on public policies focused on circularity that encourage local, fair and lower-impact production systems.
Cristina holds an MA in Interaction Design from Goldsmiths University of London, UK; as well as an MA in Research for Design and Innovation from Elisava School of Design and Engineer, Spain. Currently based in Quito, Cristina works at San Francisco University as design teacher, researcher and head of the Design Lab at USFQ. She is also co-founder at Pata de Gallo, design and architecture studio.
The exhibition is open to the public till March, 28 in Centro de arte contemporáneo de Quito