Innovation School Product Design

Claire Lobban



Understanding the behaviours of Marine Microorganisms within Scottish Waters


As a multidisciplinary designer, I am passionate about using design as a catalyst to tell stories embracing the new layered spaced between found science, technology, and fine art. My future led translation of design has equipped me with a diverse range of skills and knowledge that I can use to adapt untouched, undefined and Speculative areas.

Throughout my time studying Product Design at GSA, I have started to develop my individual design voice, establishing what matters to me most. This is mainly because of how we understand and redefine what innovation is , being not just one way, but a multitude of manners from Speculative to traditional service design to even working transdisciplinary with non-human participants. Recently, I have been researching into Seaweed especially studying the behaviours of micro-organisms and how they play a role in the circulation of nutrients within Scottish waters. Working with non-humans as stakeholders has created a space for me to work collaboratively with professionals out width my area such as a bioengineer and seaweed researcher as they can translate the micro-organism in ways I cannot. Working in this way has allowed me to analyse and develop new methods of thinking and cross-analysis which I can bring into and embed within my design practice. The most interesting aspect of this experience has been learning about how I could use Seaweed and alternative by-products such as a bacteria and micro-algae as a sustainable method to dye and draw pigment from. Seeing how designers and scientists are embracing a once judged material and studying how it could be used for olfactive, textile or multi-sensory interactive experiences pushes the possibilities further.

Within this brief, I hoped to address the inter-connected micro communities, unseen to us every day, showcasing the essential roles they play in maintaining ecosystem health, protecting and helping towards marine conservation.

The importance of understanding how small microorganisms, unseen to the human eye influence our life and health of biodiversity on earth has been one of the main key drivers as well as my own personal interest in studying interactions within natural ecosystems and how human behaviours come into play in storytelling, visualizing the benefits of a symbiotic relationship. Through conducting this project, I have been able to explore a new direction and be part of redefining what we mean by conscious actions in terms of our sustainability and understanding how we as a design community can collaborate with non-human participants, such as Microorganisms. I believe that by working with, not just taking inspiration but learning from the hidden ecosystems distant from us.

The project was also an opportunity to learn at macro and large scale marine ecosystems from a system and biodesign perspective. In collaboration with live stakeholders within the scientific community, such as SAMS Seaweed School, Bio-engineer and designer DR Kimia Witte of The university of Strathcylde and a independent scientist at Scottish Water I have been able to get a true translation of the microorganism’s themselves. Being unable to ask them myself, I believed collecting water samples to observe under microscopes to track behaviour and consistent conversation with my scientific community was the best method to translate complex understanding and knowledge, that I could then use to educate the public. I also experiemented with how to use micro-algae (seaweed) as a sustainable alternative for dying, sculpture and natural ink development, which it displayed throughout my process.

In conclusion, my study INCOO investigates the importance of marine conversation and how we as designers, scientists and most importantly public members can look after their vulnerable nitrate waters, lochs and rivers in and around Scotland. This project acknowledges the complex systems unseen to us everyday, that are vital for producing up to 50% of the oxygen we breathe and play a key role in regulating the planets climate, without them healthy, we will be affected indefinitely. By studying the microscopic world of marine microorganisms, we can better appreciate their significance and work towards safeguarding our precious marine biodiversity.


Live Microorganisms

Self Investigation

Taken at The Seaweed Academy, Oban

Micro-Algae Material Explorations


Connecting Communities Through Collaborative Engagement

JORD is an live program symbolising human and nature indicator species in which their behaviours indicate nearby environmental health. Within this project, I am analysing the synthesis of a new ecosystem understanding, investigating deeper into how we can work collaboratively with nature rather than taking inspiration. This ultimately will benefit communities giving them an opportunity to grow stronger with connection to their heritage and local folklore. By working together with the enviroment through foraging local Flora , creating natural ink JORD allows the user to get closer and add on to a linage database, tracking illistrations produced using other vurnable flora.