Technological watch

Creating a Circular Design Workspace: Lessons Learned from Setting up a “Bio-Makerspace”

In today’s industrial short-lived products, long-lasting materials are often implemented (e.g., oil-based plastics for throwaway packaging). Circular economy teaches the importance of keeping these materials in use, as well as designing end-of-lives that regenerate natural systems. Designers can help drive to a circular transition, but are they ready for this challenge? Educating young designers on circularity seems a fundamental first step, including knowing and meaningfully using circular, bio-based and biodegradable materials. This substantiates the decision to expand the UGent Campus Kortrijk Design workspace to include specific technologies for circular, bio-based and biodegradable materials as a means of experiential learning during the prototyping phase. This paper reports on setting up a “bio-makerspace” as well as the use, adaption and redesign by 45 students. Qualitative data on work dynamics, used tools, materials, barriers and enablers were captured and analyzed to potentially facilitate the implementation of similar “bio-makerspaces” in different institutions. The next steps include the expansion and intensification of the use of the lab, in conjunction with the education of students to meaningfully match these materials to sustainable applications beyond the prototyping phase.

Publication date: 16/02/2022

Author: Bert Vuylsteke

Reference: doi: 10.3390/su14042229

MDPI (sustainability)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.