Clever Ep. 213: The Quiet Rebellion of Biodesigner Natsai Audrey Chieza

Clever Ep. 213: The Quiet Rebellion of Biodesigner Natsai Audrey Chieza

Natsai Audrey Chieza is the founder and CEO of biodesign studio Faber Futures, as well as co-founder of Normal Phenomena of Life (NPOL), a lifestyle and fashion brand that also functions as a working prototype for a new model bioeconomy. Through her initiatives, the visionary designer and thought leader works to unite consumer biotechnology advancements with real-world applications. Listen to the latest episode of the Clever podcast as host Amy Devers talks with Chieza about how she’s spent her life quietly not doing what was expected and where it has ultimately led her.

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Portrait of a Black woman with a serious expression, wearing a white shirt, against a black background, with the text "Clever Creative Human EP.213" overlaid.

Natsai Audrey Chieza

She grew up in Zimbabwe until the country’s economy crashed and her family made the decision to relocate to the UK – where her practice of “not belonging” unintentionally began. There, she combined a unique love of architecture and fashion pursuing a postgraduate program in Material Futures that set her on a path toward designing with bacteria.

Chieza’s approach includes partnerships across biotech, consumer sectors, and cultural institutions, as well as collaborative, story-driven strategies that catalyze engagement and action on critical issues. Working with clients such as adidas and the World Economic Forum (WEF), her insights and leadership are highly sought after, including as a speaker at SXSW, TED, and Design Indaba. Her contributions to biophilic design have also earned several accolades, including the 2019 INDEX award, known as the Nobel Prize for design.

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Close-up of fabric featuring a blend of pink and blue colors with a speckled pattern.

Project Coelicolor, Bacteria dyed textile, 2021 \ Photo: Toby Coulson

Close-up of a black object with intricate, wavy patterns on a dark background.

Mutupo, microbial dark matter totem, Faber Futures, commissioned by Studio Other Spaces for Future Assembly at Biennale Architettura 2021: How Will We Live Together? \ Photo: Toby Coulson

Modern abstract sculpture with an irregular black surface and industrial elements, including bolts and metallic structures.

1:100 Scale Mycelium-based Site Model, Museum of Symbiosis. Designed by Faber Futures. The Laboratory of the Future at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia curated by Lesley Lokko, 2023. \ Photo: Photo Ste Murray

Woman in pink marbled jacket with drawstrings on white background.

Mbeu microbial dye R&D at the Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London, 2022. The Exploring Jacket and Musette, NPOL Original, Normal Phenomena of Life. \ Photo: Toby Coulson

A sculptural artwork featuring layered, undulating dark material with protruding rods, displayed against a gray background.

Project Coelicolor: Transversal, 2019; Faber Futures in collaboration with Professor John Ward, Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London. \ Photo: Oskar Proctor

Source: design-milk

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