• Cultural and Creative Industries
  • Situated Art and Design
  • Biobased Art and Design
  • All


Elvin Karana

Research Group: Biobased Art and Design

‘The dynamic relationship between humans and living artefacts will continue to evolve reciprocally with mutual care.’

Elvin Karana is Research Professor of Biobased Art and Design at the Avans and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, leading the research group Materializing Futures at TU/Delft. 

Materials express meanings, ideas and beliefs: they compel us to think, feel and act in certain ways. Giving emphasis to materials’ role in design as experiential and yet deeply rooted in their inherent properties, Elvin Karana explores the productive shifts and creative tensions between materials science and design for the development of new materials. Over the last years she developed theories, tools and methods to enable the understanding of materials experience actionable in material-driven design practice. In 2015, she founded the international research group Materials Experience Lab, which she leads jointly with Valentina Rognoli (Politecnico di Milano). Elvin has over 70 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals and conferences. She is the main editor of Materials Experience: Fundamentals of Materials and Design (Elsevier, 2014).  

Presently, Elvin is Research Professor of Biobased Art and Design at the Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design and Technology (Caradt) in the Netherlands, bringing together researchers and practitioners from Avans University of Applied Sciences and Delft University of Technology. She received her PhD in 2009 from Delft University of Technology, where she is also currently Associate Professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, leading the research group Materializing Futures.  

Capitalising on the notion of materials experience, in 2019, she founded the creative biodesign research lab Material Incubator ([MI] Lab), that aims at designing materials that incorporate living organisms and exploring their potential in fostering an alternative notion of the everyday.


Kim, R., Risseeuw, C., Groutars, E., Karana, E. (2023) Surfacing Livingness in Microbial Displays: A Design Taxonomy for HCIarrow, CHI ’23: Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April 2023, Article No.: 156.

McQuillan, H. and Karana, E. (2023) Conformal, Seamless, Sustainable: Multimorphic Textile-forms as a Material-Driven Design Approach for HCIarrow, CHI ’23: Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Article No.: 727.

Risseeuw, C., Martinez, J., Barla, P., Karana, E. (accepted, 2023) FlavoMetrics: Towards a Digital Tool to Understand and Tune Living Aesthetics of Flavobacteriaarrow, DIS’23.

Zhou, J., Kim, R., Doubrovski, Z., Martins, J., Giaccardi, E., Karana, E. (accepted, 2023) Cyano-chromic Interface: Aligning Human-Microbe Temporalities Towards Noticing and Attending to Living Artefactsarrow, DIS’23.

Buso, A., McQuillan, H., Voorwinden, M., Karana, E. (accepted, 2023) Weaving Textile-form Interfaces: A Material-Driven Design Journeyarrow, DIS’23.

Zhou, L., Barati, B., Wu, J., Scherer, D., Karana, E. (2020) Digital biofabrication to realize the potentials of plant roots for product designarrow, Bio-design and Manufacturing, 4, pages 111–122 (2021).

Veelaert, L., Du Bois. E., Moons, I., Karana, E. (2020) Experiential characterization of materials in product design: A literature reviewarrow, Materials and Design, 190: 108543.

Karana, E., Barati, B., & Giaccardi, E. (2020) Living artefacts: Conceptualizing livingness as a material quality in everyday artefactsarrow,  International Journal of Design, 14(3), 37-53.

Karana, E. (2020), Still Alive: Livingness as a Material Quality in Design, Breda Avans University of Applied Sciences, ISBN: 978-90-76861-61-6.arrow

Karana, E., Rognoli, V., & Jacob-Dazarola, R. (2020) The Role of Design in the Development of New Materials: Interview with Elvin Karanaarrow, Diseña, (17), 46-55.

Barati, B., Karana, E., & Hekkert, P. (2020), Understanding Experiential Qualities of Light-Touch-Matters: Towards a Tool Kitarrow, Journal of Design Thinking, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1-20.

Barati, B., Giaccardi, E., & Karana, E. (2018). The making of performativity in designing [with] smart material composites. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI18) (pp.5:15:11). ACM. 

Research Group: Biobased Art and Design

The research group Biobased Art and Design capitalises on the role of artistic practice in unlocking the unique potentials of living organisms for everyday materials and communicating these to a broader public. In doing so, the group aims to instigate and accelerate our widespread understanding, further development and usage of such materials. The group’s research approach encourages tangible interactions with the living organisms, such as algae, fungi, plants and bacteria, to explore and understand their unique qualities and constraints through diverse technical and creative methods taking artists, designers and scientists as equal and active partners in the material creation.

Read more arrow
‘It is through the “not-knowing” that a stimulating and caring environment can be created to confidently share vulnerability.’

Risk Hazekamp arrow

‘Humans are atmospheric beings, particles, dust, in intimate cycles of exchange, actors with an incredible force.’

Annemarie Piscaer arrow

‘Exploring and integrating novel perspectives to our everyday through the eyes of fungi.’

Wasabii Ng arrow

‘Bacteria, Fungi, Humans, all part of the same experiment.’

Ward Groutars arrow

‘I believe a collaborative and efficient lab can address both educational and research demands.’

Serena Buscone arrow

‘I am eager to explore how unique qualities of ‘living materials’ can transform the way we think, feel and act.’

Hazal Ertürkan arrow

‘Nature is a perfect example of an iterative design process. It is inspiring and full of exciting solutions.’

Clarice Risseeuw arrow

All people arrow

Thank you for your subscription! Please check your email inbox to confirm.