Microbial Design Studio: 30-day Simit Diet

Orkan Telhan, Karen Hogan, Mike Hogan


Microbial Design Studio is an automated and networked biolab that is designed to perform transgenic experiments, which interrogate ethnical, cultural, and political issues in life sciences. In this submission, the platform is introduced with the 30-day Simit Diet. Microbial Design Studio is used to generate a special diet using traditional Turkish simits (savory goods similar to bagels) to make a commentary on the desires of controlling the appearance, form, and aesthetics of the human body. The platform is used to mix different strains of wild yeast that are sourced from different people and places in Istanbul with transgenic organisms that are capable of producing vitamins, flavors, and smells. The microbially augmented diet offered a novel simit design based on existing microbiome research and proposed simits that can “potentially” mitigate depression, improve mentally sharpness, or increase fertility. Custom software drives different components of the automated biolab. Multiple biolabs can also be connected to coordinate distributed research and development.


Support received from University of Pennsylvania (US)

Biorealize consists of Orkan Telhan (US/TR), Karen Hogan (US), and Mike Hogan (US). Founders bring together backgrounds from arts, design, computation, and biology. Orkan Telhan, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Fine Arts–Emerging Design Practices at University of Pennsylvania. Karen Hogan, PhD, is the teaching laboratory coordinator at the Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania. Mike Hogan is an entrepreneur with experience in several fields, including embedded development, Process Analytical Technology and Knowledge Workbenches. In addition to working towards developing and commercializing biotechnologies, the group runs educational activities and workshops that engage with the biological art and design community in Philadelphia, USA.