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Exhale Bionic Chandelier by Julian Melchiorri - Arborea

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Exhale Bionic Chandelier

Exhale Bionic Chandelier by Julian Melchiorri - Arborea

V&A Gallery (permanent collection), London

August 2017

Exhale is the world’s first living ‘bionic chandelier’, designed by visionary engineer Julian Melchiorri, founder of biochemical technology company Arborea. Combining thoughtful design with pioneering biotechnology, the chandelier fills the space around it with both light and clean air. It is home to living microalgae, housed in a series of intricate leaf modules, that purify the air through photosynthesis, stimulated by the chandelier’s light.

The hand-crafted metal structure consists of a recurring green leaf motif, repeated 70 times in three different sizes in a radial pattern reflecting natural plant shapes. The overall design takes inspiration from the V&A’s Art Nouveau and Islamic Art collections, as well as Julian’s biomimicry approach of ‘form through function’. It is connected to a life-support device, developed by Arborea engineers, that nourishes and maintains the micro-ecosystem.

This piece explores how advances in biotechnology and engineering can be applied to everyday objects and architecture to improve the quality of our lives. The biological process at its core establishes a new symbiotic relationship between object and people, where life-giving resources are constantly exchanged. By harnessing one ecosystem, between microalgae and light, it essentially creates another one, with the people around it.

millimetre is proud to have supported the development process, fabrication strategy and fabrication with Julian, through prototyping, tooling design and workshops. We worked on the production and testing of bending jigs and press tools, the production and jointing of all metal elements, as well as assistance with the fitting.