Trends & Insights

From glowing algae to digital plants: creative highlights and insights from MCBW 2024

The motto of this year's Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW) was “How to co-create with nature?”. We have taken away and summarized the most important insights for us!

Natural materials instead of artificial overengineering

Instead of artificial overengineering, we should take a closer look at the natural materials around us and understand how they change over time. How can we use these natural processes? Designer Laura Kieswetter was inspired by the transformation of pine cones, which react to humidity and heat. She initially used this to develop pieces of furniture under the name “Hylo Tech”. She is now working with a large team at ICD Stuttgart on architectural projects such as the Wangen Tower. This uses precisely these processes to avoid additional tools, excessive transportation space and technical effort.


Lots of speculation and always focusing on nature

Daniela Bohlinger works in the innovation team at BMW and repeatedly initiates projects that look far into the future – known as speculative design. Together with the Umeå Institute of Design, she has developed experimental approaches such as a monorail that floats high above the ground at just 1 km/h, or glowing algae that can be used as street lamps. The key principle that runs through all the projects: The focus is on nature, not people. Daniela’s great wish is to train AI in such a way that nature is taken into account in all decision-making processes.


Nature co-design as a synergy between man and nature

The keyword biodesign is omnipresent. Designer Maurizio Montalti coined the term “nature co-design” to illustrate the synergy between nature and humans in the design process. This requires a deep understanding of the entire life cycle of nature, right down to the micro level. His focus is on fungi, especially the mycelium, a huge underground system. With his company SQIM, he uses it to develop CO2-neutral panel materials and textiles for interiors and the fashion industry that can be fully returned to the material cycle. Most recently, he produced materials for Balenciaga. His conclusion: “Introducing more living products.”


Making the impact tangible

“If we tell you, you will know. If you experience it, you will understand.” Tom Kortbeek, co-founder of Dutch Fillip Studio, developed an audiovisual installation called “Arabidopsis Symphony” for MCBW. In Munich’s city center, visitors could discover impressive virtual plants that make music and light up depending on how many people are in the square. Under the motto “Turning amazement into impact”, his main aim was to communicate the latest scientific findings on the sensitive behavior of plants in relation to their environment. A super exciting experience!


In order to take all these aspects into account, we need to redefine sustainability. Sustainability is often mistakenly equated with sacrifice or replacement because it is always viewed in comparison to the old. Instead, we should focus on highlighting the new added value that is created by using natural processes and materials. Emphasize innovation in storytelling and refrain from constantly repeating the word sustainability. 🙂


We are excited to see what else is in store for us & how we will shape design in the future!

What’s new in the Designplus universe?

Subscribe to our newsletter to find out!